On 12th October 2020, Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman announced measures of Rs 73,000 crore to stimulate consumer spending in the economy in an effort to fight the slowdown due to COVID-19 pandemic following lockdown. The measures included cash incentive schemes for employees in the form of ‘LTC Cash Voucher Scheme’ (LTC Scheme) and ‘Special Festival Advance Scheme’ (Festival Scheme).
Special Festival Advance Scheme
A SFAS for non-gazetted employees, as well as for gazetted employees too, is being revived as a one-time measure to stimulate demand. All Central Government employees can now get an interest-free advance of Rs. 10,000, to be spent by 31st March, 2021 on the choice of festival of the employee. The interest-free advance is recoverable from the employee in maximum 10 instalments.
The employees will get pre-loaded RuPay Card of the advance value. The Government will bear Bank charges of the card. Disbursal of advance through RuPay card ensures digital mode of payment, resulting in tax revenue and encouraging honest businesses.
The one-time disbursement of Special Festival Advance Scheme (SFAS) is expected to amount to Rs. 4,000 crore; and if the SFAS given by all State Governments, another tranche of Rs. 8,000 crore is expected to be disbursed.