Loan waiver scheme for all farmers

Seeking to stave off criticism that the Centre's loan waiver scheme would mainly benefit defaulting farmers, the Congress Government in the State has decided in principle to extend it to those farmers who have promptly repaid their debts. The State Government will initially request the Centre to somehow allow the benefit of waiver to all farmers or, at least, bear the financial burden partially. If there is no positive response from the Centre, the Government may work out a scheme on its own. Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy held detailed discussions with Ministers and senior officials here on Thursday on the loan waiver scheme. Apart from the Opposition's criticism, Dr. Reddy has himself expressed reservations on the scheme benefiting only the defaulters while ignoring those farmers who repaid their debts sincerely. He is credited with the view that it would benefit only 50 per cent of the small and marginal farmers even though the expenditure on it in the State would be around Rs. 10,000-12,000 crore. Speaking to reporters later, Finance Minister K. Rosaiah said the Government would formulate its plan once the Centre issued guidelines on the scheme which would reveal the actual number of beneficiary farmers and also the extent of the financial burden. Essential commodities Mr. Rosaiah said another scheme on the anvil, also outside the budget proposals, was to ensure sale of some more essential commodities in addition to rice, to card-holders at subsided prices and thus arrest inflationary trend in the open market. Edible oil would be sold for Rs 60 a kg and red gram for Rs 35 a kg. Asked whether the Government was justified in taking these policy decisions without referring them to the Legislature, now in its budget session, Mr. Rosaiah said the Chief Minister had already informed the Assembly about the plan to sell oil and pulses at subsidised rates while the loan waiver for SCs and STs announced on Wednesday was a relief and not a policy decision.

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