Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu may soon announce his version of Basic Income Scheme to provide for monthly wages to the farmers in his state.
This plan is being seen to counter promise been made by the opposition YSR Congress Party to give Rs 12,000 annually to all the farmers, irrespective of land holdings and annual income.
In neighboring Telangana, the TRS government reaped rich electoral dividends from the Raitu Bandhu scheme in the 2018 Assembly polls. Raitu Bandhu gives Rs 4,000 per acre, per season to the farmers. The TRS in its election manifesto for 2019 has promised to increase it to Rs 10,000 per acre, annually.
The Naidu government is mulling to provide monthly income to the farmers. “Raithe Raju” could be announced before the Assembly elections are announced in Andhra Pradesh. The polls will be held along with Lok Sabha elections, between April and May this year. Naidu is likely to discuss the contours of the scheme with his colleagues in the next cabinet meeting.
“We have to support farmers in the form of investment and other things. The chief minister is thinking about pensions which is the first of its kind in the country. Our state is agriculture-dependent. The government did many thing in the farming sector like loan waiver with Rs 24,000 crore.” Neelayapalem Vijaya Kumar, chairman of AP Food Commission told News 18.
50 to 55 lakh families in Andhra Pradesh are dependent on agriculture. Raithe Raju may cost the state exchequer an additional 20,000 crore per annum. Already 65 lakh people are covered under old age pensions. Government is currently working to identify the farmers who would benefit from the scheme.
Economists are, however, worried that freebies ahead of the elections may be affect state’s fiscal position considering that Andhra Pradesh has become a revenue deficit state after separation of Telangana.