The Gujarat government on Thursday announced a relief package of Rs 14,000 crore to help revive the economy battered by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, a measure that includes tax rebates to consumers and loan subsidy for business and shop owners. The package seeks to cover a vast section of people and businesses in Gujarat, one of the most industrialised states which has reported more than 18,500 COVID-19 cases so far.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani made the announcement and gave relief to various sections of the society based on recommendations of a committee headed by former Union finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia. We had appointed the Hasmukh Adhia committee for economic revival of the state which has submitted an interim report. “The report was discussed threadbare for the last four days and we have decided to announce ‘Gujarat Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) package’ of Rs 14,000 crore, Rupani said. We have decided to give relief to people in payment of property tax, electricity bills and vehicle tax, Rupani said.
Commercial establishments, businesses, offices, hotels, restaurants, shops, hospitals will get a rebate of 20 percent in their annual property tax bills while residential property owners will get a 10 percent rebate, according to details of the package. This will give direct benefit to people to the tune of Rs 744 crore. Electricity consumers using less than 200 units per month will get rebate till the first 100 units consumption which will cost Rs 200 crore to the exchequer, the chief minister said, adding the state will give the amount to power companies.
Various rebates have been announced for commercial and industrial consumers of electricity. While private buses, jeeps, taxis have been given relief of payment of road tax and tax for six months due to the lockdown. The total relief for property tax, electricity and vehicle tax comes to Rs 2,300 crore, according to the package. The government announced subsidy for various industries to the tune of Rs 3,038 crore, while Rs 458-crore relief was given to GIDC (Gujarat Industrial Development Corp) for promotion of industries.
In a bid to revive the housing sector, the government has announced Rs 1,000 crore. The government said it will give loan interest subsidy of 4 percent for loans of up to Rs 2.5 lakh for business and shop owners. Out of the 8 percent interest rate, 4 percent will have to be paid by the borrower, while the rest will be paid by the government.
The government allocated Rs 525 crore for loan interest subsidy. It earmarked Rs 466 crore for labour welfare which includes benefits of Rs 35,000 to each tribal labourer who works in different parts of the state and wants to build a house in his hometown.
Other benefits are of Rs 5,044 crore which include free ration to poor families during the period of lockdown and direct transfer of Rs 1,000 in their accounts. The government also decided to allocate Rs 100 crore to the health department and another Rs 100 crore to four municipal corporations Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot from the Chief Ministers Relief Fund to fight the novel coronavirus.