After Rs 34,000 Crore Loan Waiver, Karnataka CM Announces Additional Relief for Farmers
An official release said a total of 22.23 lakh farmers who have obtained loans up to July 10 this year would benefit from the latest waiver.
File photo of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. (PTI)
Bengaluru: Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on Thursday announced an additional farm loan waiver of Rs 10,700 crore in respect of cooperative banks, but refused to bow down to pressure from coalition partner Congress to roll back the fuel price hike proposed in the state budget.
A week after unveiling a Rs 34,000 crore farm loan waiver in his July 5 budget, Kumaraswamy informed the state assembly that his government has decided to waive existing crop loan up to Rs 1 lakh borrowed by farmers from cooperative banks.
“I’m giving one more good news to our farmers; we have decided to waive existing crop loans up to Rs 1 lakh borrowed from the cooperative sector. I have earmarked Rs 10,700 crore for this,” he said winding up the debate on the budget.
He said his government was committed to protecting the interest of farmers and “save” them.
An official release later said a total of 22.23 lakh farmers who have obtained loans up to July 10 this year would benefit from the latest waiver.
Despite mounting pressure from the Congress to roll back the hike in petrol and diesel prices, Kumaraswamy, who also holds the finance portfolio, stuck to his decision.
“We want source of income,” he said while justifying his stand by quoting a similar statement made by Union minister Arun Jaitley on the fuel price hike.
In the coalition government’s maiden budget last week, Kumaraswamy had proposed increase in taxes on petrol and diesel by Rs 1.14 and Rs 1.12 per litre respectively as part of resource mobilisation efforts following the farm loan waiver, that would cost the exchequer Rs 34,000 crore.
Amidst much anticipation, the chief minister also did not give any clear commitment regarding restoring the supply of 7kg of rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme, a flagship programme of the previous Congress government led by Siddaramaiah.
In the budget he had announced a reduction in the rice quota issued to BPL families by 2kg and decided to supply only 5kg per month to an individual under the ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme.
“I have heard several criticisms on this. Siddaramaiahhas also said it should be restored...we will be deciding on it,” the chief minister said.
Recently, Siddaramaiah, who is also the head of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, in a letter to the chief minister pressed for withdrawing the decision on petrol and diesel price hike, and reduction in supply of rice.
In a major succour to the distress-hit farm sector, Kumaraswamy on July 5 had announced a Rs 34,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme.
With the loan amount limit capped at Rs 2 lakh, it was announced to waive defaulted crop loans of the farmers made up to December 31, 2017, in the first stage.
Besides this, it was decided to credit the repaid loan amount or Rs 25,000, whichever is less, to each of the farmers’ account, to help farmers who had repaid the loan within time.
Detailing the farm loan waiver announced in the budget, Kumaraswamy said “in four-year period, in four instalments, nationalised bank's loan waiver amount will be repaid, and during this year Rs Rs 6,500 crore will be repaid”.
He also said farmers across the state and from all communities would benefit from the farm loan waiver, rejecting claims that it would help only certain region or section.
Claiming that there was no betrayal on farm loan waiver as being projected by the BJP, he also reminded that he had written to the Prime Minister seeking help in this regard.
Rejecting the Opposition’s allegation that the budget favoured only certain regions, especially southern parts of the state where JD(S) is strong, he said "my government is working for all round development of united Karnataka”.
Leader of the Opposition in the assembly BS Yeddyurappa, however, raised questions on the budget, specifically on the waiver.
He sought to know from Kumaraswamy as to how banks will give no-due certificate to farmers as the government was repaying them in instalments. “According to my knowledge it is impossible,” he said.
Responding to this, Kumaraswamy said, “It is possible. I have had meetings with banks. I’m not playing a game here... don’t have doubts about it.”
However, not convinced by the chief minister's reply, BJP members walked out of the House accusing it of "betraying" people by not fulfilling its promises made ahead of polls.
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