LTC cash voucher scheme for govt employees: 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 scheme and special festival advance scheme for government employees to boost demand.

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“The needs of the poor and weaker sections addressed in various announcements by the government,” Sitharaman said at a press conference in Delhi. “Supply constraints have somewhat eased but consumer demand still needs to be given a boost. The proposals being presented are designed in a way that they can stimulate demand by front-loading/advancing some of the expenditure with some offsetting changes.”

In a bid to stimulate demand in the economy, the government on Monday announced giving out cash vouchers to central government employees this year in lieu of leave travel concession (LTC) fare which could be spent only on buying non-food GST-rated items. The Finance minister said that the government will give Rs 10,000 special festivals advance to all its employees as a one-time measure to stimulate demand in the economy. 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the employees could buy items that attract 12 percent or more goods and services tax (GST). These purchases will have to be made in digital mode from GST-registered outlets.

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Under LTC Cash Voucher Scheme, government employees can opt to receive cash amounting to leave encashment plus 3 times the ticket fare, to buy items that attract GST of 12% or more. Only digital transactions allowed, GST invoice to be produced,” FM Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Only digital transactions will be allowed in this and the GST invoice will be produced, Sitharaman said.

Leave Travel Concession (LTC) is available to government employees and organized sector employees. Every four years, central government employees get LTC to any destination to their choice plus one to their hometown.

Since travel is difficult to undertake during the pandemic, the government will pay the entitled fare as cash vouchers which have to be spent by March 31, 2021, she said.

Central government payout on cash-in-lieu-for-LTC will be Rs 5,675 crore, and another Rs 1,900 crore will be payout by central PSUs and public sector banks, Sitharaman said.

The demand infusion because of this would be Rs 19,000 crore, and another Rs 9,000 crore if half of the states follow this guideline, she added. 

Mean-while, With 66,732 new cases, the coronavirus tally in India has now risen to over 71 lakh. As many as 816 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the casualties to 1,09,150. Of the 71,20,539 infections, the recoveries stand at 61,49,536, while 8,61,853 cases are still active. With increasing recoveries, India has sustained its leading global position with the maximum recovered cases.

Laying out the sequence of distribution of COVID vaccines that are expected to be available in India, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said Sunday that the first priority will be for those facing occupational hazards from the virus and exposure risk, indicating that healthcare professionals at the frontline would be among the early recipients.

Globally, the infections topped 37.3 million. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to step up efforts to contain Covid-19 on Monday. South Korea eased social distancing requirements, and the governor of Jakarta relaxed restrictions in Indonesia’s capital.

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