Debt relief for small and marginal farmers

Written by Reuters | New Delhi, February 29: | Updated: Feb 29 2008, 16:32pm hrs
Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram presented the federal budget for 2008/09 on Friday, the fifth and final full one before elections due by May 2009.

Following are highlights and key quotes from the budget speech. The entire text can be seen at http://inbudget.nic.in.

MAIN POINTS

* Total plan spending in 2008/09 seen at 2.4 trillion rupees ($60.3 billion).

* Government confident of GDP growth of 8.8 percent in 2007/08.

* Keeping inflation under check is a cornerstone of government policy.

* Pressure on domestic prices from food articles.

* "Keeping inflation under check is one of the cornerstones of our policies".

* "There is pressure on domestic prices, especially the prices of food articles. Management of the supply side of food articles will be the most crucial task in the ensuing year," he said.

* There is a need to manage capital inflows more actively.

SPENDING PLANS

* 2008/09 budget education spending to rise 20 percent.

* 2008/09 budget health spending to rise 15 percent.

* 2008/09 spending on National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme seen at 160 billion rupees ($4.0 billion).

FARM SECTOR

* Government determined to be self-sufficient in food grains.

* "The ministry of agriculture has estimated the total output of foodgrain in 2007-08 will be 219.32 million tones and that will be an all-time record," he said.

* Agricultural loans given by scheduled commericial

banks, regional rural banks and cooperative credit

institutions up to March 31, 2007 and due for December 31 that year will be covered under the waiver scheme to address the problem of indebtedness.