Centre initiates discussion on farm loan waiver


Maharashtra, TN among States seeking relief; hold talks with Finance Minister

New Delhi:
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday initiated discussions on a farm loan waiver scheme with the Agriculture Ministry and some States in line with the BJP’s promise ahead of Uttar Pradesh elections.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Tamil Nadu Finance Minister D Jayakumar were among those who met Jaitley to discuss various issues concerning farmers, including the loan waiver scheme.

“We...explained the problems being faced by farmers of Maharashtra. There are 1.8 crore farmers who had taken 1.05 lakh crore loans. Of this, loans of 31,000 farmers are overdue, amounting to ?30,500 crore,” Fadnavis said after the meeting. In case the debt is not serviced, then these farmers will be out of institutional credit, he said, adding that the NDA government has been trying to increase capital expenditure in the agriculture sector, including drought relief.

“We have requested the government of India to design a scheme so that the debt of 31,000 farmers can be waived...the government of Maharashtra would participate in the scheme as per the fiscal space of the State,” he said.

The Finance Minister has assured that the Centre is solidly behind the farmers in the country, he added.

He also assured that the Central government would consider their demands positively and come up with some scheme to help farmers in distress.

Fadnavis said that if the State government provided relief from its coffers, it would not in a position to make capital investments in the agriculture sector as the fiscal deficit would increase.

Tamil Nadu is reeling under severe drought due to rainfall deficit of nearly 62 per cent owing to monsoon failure. The State has been demanding relief from the central government.

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The Hindu Business Line, 17 March, 2017, http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/money-and-banking/centre-initiates-discussion-on-farm-loan-waiver/article9589721.ece?homepage=true

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