Centre announces travel cash vouchers, Rs 10,000 special festival advance for government employees

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressing a press conference on Monday.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said that the coronavirus pandemic has “adversely affected” the Indian economy and consumer demands need to be stimulated. The minister announced an LTC cash voucher and special festival advance schemes for government employees to spur the demand.

Sitharaman said the new proposals have been designed to stimulate demand by front-loading/advancing some of the expenditure with some offsetting changes.

Under the LTC cash voucher scheme, the finance minister said that government employees can opt to receive cash amounting to leave encashment along with three times the ticket fare to buy items that attract GST of 12% or more. The central government staff gets LTC in a block of four years, which includes one to travel anywhere within the country and three to visit their hometown.

Moreover, all Central government employees can avail of an interest-free advance of Rs 10,000 in the form of a prepaid RuPay Card. The one-time disbursement is expected to amount to Rs 4,000 crore. If given by all state governments, another Rs 8,000 crore is expected to be disbursed.

The interest-free advance of Rs 10,000, to be spent by March 31, 2021, is to be paid back in 10 installments. The government will bear the bank charges in this regard.

This came after the Indian economy saw its worst contraction in decades, with Gross Domestic Product shrinking by a record 23.9% in the April to June quarter and reflected the severe impact of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

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