Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy today announced an additional farm loan waiver of Rs10,700 crore in respect of cooperative banks
Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy today announced an additional farm loan waiver of Rs10,700 crore in respect of cooperative banks, but refused to bow 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 farmloan waiver in his July 5 budget, Kumaraswamy informed the state assembly that his government has decided to waive existing crop loan upto Rs one 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. 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 didnot give any clear commitment regarding restoring the supply of 7 kg 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 two kgs and decided to supply only five kgs 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 onit,” the Chief Minister said.
Recently, Siddaramaiah, who is also the head of Congress-JD(S) coalition government, in a letter to Chief Minister had 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 lakhs 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 farmersaccount, to help farmers who had repaid the loan within time.
Detailing the farm loan waiver announced in the budget, Kumaraswamy said “in four years 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 that 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 loanwaiver as being projected by the BJP, he also reminded that he had written to the Prime Minister seeking help in this regard. Rejecting 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 B S Yeddyurappa, however, raised questions on the budget, specifically on the farm loan waiver. He sought to know from Kumaraswamy as to how banks will give nodue 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 gamehere… don’t have doubts about it.” However, not convinced by the Chief Minister’s replyon the budget, BJP members walked out of the House accusing it of “betraying” people by not fulfilling its promises made ahead of polls. “There is no clarity on loan waiver, nothing is being said on weavers loan waiver. They have betrayed the people and farmers. ‘Sthree Shakti’ groups’ loan has not been waived,” Yeddyurappa alleged as he led his MLAs out of the house.