Maharashtra minister Sudhir Mungantiwar today said the exact quantum of the loan waiver to be given to farmers was yet to be worked out. “The quantum of loan waiver will only be known after the committee arrives at a decision on the criteria for loan waiver. It will be for the committee to decide on whether to grant loan waiver only to those farmers, whose livelihood is solely dependent on farming and whether to exclude rich farmers from the purview of the loan waiver package,” he said. Farmers in the state, who had been agitating to press for their several demands since June 1, yesterday called off their protests, after the Maharashtra government announced a loan waiver and decided to form a committee to decide the criteria of debt relief. When asked about how the state government intended to raise funds for the loan waiver, the finance minister said the government would appoint a committee comprising farmer leaders and government officials, which would work out the eligibility criteria and then arrive at the quantum of loan waiver package. “The government has many options like tapping the unused funds in the personal ledger account (PLA) of the government departments to raise the requisite funds for the loan waiver package,” he said while assuring that the state’s finances were sound. Replying to queries, he said the proposed joint committee of the government and farmer leaders would meet on who amongst the farmers should be considered eligible to avail the loan waiver.
Mungantiwar said that the government departments have unused funds received from the state and the Centre, which are parked in the PLA. Besides this, the government can raise additional funds through raising non tax revenue (NTR), which is generated out of fines, government fees and other charges, he said. At present the government NTR income is Rs 16,000 crore, which it intends to raise it to Rs 26,000 crore, he added. After the Goods and Services Tax (GST) comes into effect from July 1, the state’s income is set to rise by Rs 14,000 crore, Mungantiwar said. “Apart from that, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has about Rs 16,000 crore of unutilised funds and City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has about Rs 40,000 crore of such funds,” he said. However, sources in the finance department said that the government will have to weigh in the factor of allocation for the arrears of Seventh Pay Commission. Sources added that the amount would be around Rs 15,000 crore and the arrears are payable from January 2016.