Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu has decided to waive farm loans of up to R1.50 lakh per family in the state as per the Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) poll promises. The state government has finalised the list of beneficiaries after synchronising it with Aadhaar cards and ration cards to avoid loopholes.
In an interaction with the media, Naidu said, “Today, we have implemented the manifesto. For the last six months we have done enough exercise. In this process, we are settling around 40 lakh accounts. Nearly 27 lakh people are going to be benefited, 23 lakh families are going to benefit from this scheme. It is going to be implemented from 10th of this month.”.
“We wanted to free farmers from debt trap. Up to R50,000 per family, we are giving total money. Above R50,000, the sum will be given in five installments. They will be eligible to take fresh loans from banks,” he said. “It is a big programme. Never in the history has such a scheme been implemented by any of the state governments or even the central government so far,” Naidu said.
The remaining 80% amount for families with loan amounts above R50,000 would be adjusted on annual basis over next four years as per norms. The government would bear total interest at the rate of 10%. As per the ‘Debt Redemption Scheme’, those who took loans between April 1, 2007 and December 31, 2013 are eligible for waiver. Horticulture farmers would be given relief of R10,000 per acre as per norms.
The number of accounts entered by banks is 82.66 lakh and number of accounts cleared for loan waiver in the first phase is R40.43 lakh. As many as 26.77 lakh farmers have been cleared in the phase one. In phase II, after receiving necessary documents, 42.23 lakh accounts will be processed. Naidu also said that a grievance redressal mechanism is being put in place by the state government, which would start functioning from December 9.
Though there is no official confirmation on the total loan reschedulement, bankers say it could be over R50,000 crore, including crop and gold loans. The AP government has already issued guidelines for the loan waiver scheme, which is estimated to cost around R43,000 crore to the state exchequer.
The chief minister also recalled how the agriculture sector was meted out ‘gross neglect’ during the previous Congress regime that resulted in steep rise in input costs, deterioration of agriculture extension services and fall in remunerative prices.
“We assure the farmers that the agriculture will be profitable in the days to come. From soil testing, marketing of agricultural produce and setting up of agri-based industries, the government will take all necessary measures to make farming a lucrative occupation,” he said.
The state government had set up a Farmers’ Empowerment Corporation to monitor the implementation of the loan waiver, but also recommend steps, in consultation with experts, to make agriculture remunerative.