Looking at the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, Government of India today announced a relief package with a total outlay of Rs. 1,70,000 crore.
Along with farmers, it will benefit migrant workers also, though the major demands of the apparel industry, moratorium on loans and special package are still ignored. Similarly, nothing has been said regarding Employees’ State Insurance (ESI).
As far as industry is concerned, the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) contribution of the employer and the employee (put together 24 per cent) will be paid by the Government for the next 3 months. It will apply to establishments with up to 100 employees and 90 per cent of them earning less than Rs. 15,000.
Giving another relief to the workers of organised sectors, Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) regulation will be amended. Now workers can draw up to 75 per cent for their contingency expenditure non-refundable advance or 3 months of wages in advance, whichever is less. It is going to benefit a large chunk of workers of apparel manufacturing units.
To the Women Self Help Groups (SHG), under the Deen Dayal National Livelihood Mission, the collateral-free loan will be given up to Rs. 20 lakh from Rs. 10 lakh earlier. It will have an impact on 7 crore holders through 63 lakh SHGs.
As nationwide lockdown is in progress, due to Coronavirus pandemic, the overall economy has been hit hard.
“While the decision is sure to benefit a large section of the population, there was nothing for the apparel manufacturers and exporters and the 12.9 million workforce engaged in the sector. The apparel sector is in any case facing huge losses as export orders are being cancelled and/or postponed every day and to further aggravate the situation, there are roadblocks and delays in shipments,” said Dr A Sakthivel, Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC).