|State govt to spend Rs 800 cr on farmer schemes|
GUWAHATI, Dec 19 - The State government will spend Rs 800 crore this financial year under the three schemes approved by the cabinet for agricultural credit seekers, Finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said today, asserting that the schemes were not in line with the farm loan waivers announced by a number of states post the December 11 assembly election results.
“The schemes have nothing to do with national politics. I had announced them in this year’s budget. They are purely indigenous. Also, they are not a one-time affair like the loan waivers. They are aimed at helping the farmer repay debts and remain in the banking system,” Sarma told a press conference.
The first scheme – Assam Farmers Credit Subsidy Scheme – will be started as a pilot scheme and cover 4 lakh farmers who have taken short-term loans this financial year. The government will deposit 25 per cent of the total amount repaid by the farmers for the loans, subject to maximum limit of Rs 25,000. It will involve a financial outgo of Rs 500 crore and will also cover small tea growers and farmers in rubber plantations who have availed working capital loans.
“It is a subsidy scheme and not a debt waiver. If it is successful, it will be an annual feature from next year,” Sarma said.
Under the second scheme – Assam Farmers’ Interest Relief Scheme – Assam government will provide interest subvention of 4 per cent on short term crop loans up to a limit of Rs 2 lakh. With the Central government too providing an interest subvention of 3 per cent, the effective rate of interest for a farmer in Assam will become zero.
“Based on the offtake of the schemes and the subvention extended by the Central government, the State Government will increase/ decrease the rates of subvention to ensure that the State farmers get the credit at zero per cent interest,” the Finance minister said. This scheme will involve a financial outgo of Rs 200 crore and cover around 11 lakh farmers.
The third scheme – Assam Farmers’ Incentives Scheme – has provisions of a one-time cash incentive of Rs 10,000 for activating inactive KCC accounts provided the farmers deposits the outstanding loan amounts. Around 19 lakh farm families have been covered by Kisan Credit Cards and many of the KCCs are inoperative, thereby adversely affecting the flow of institutional credit to the farm sector. The scheme will cover 3 lakh farmers and will have a financial implication of Rs 300 crore for the government.
The schemes will be launched in the second week of January.
Insisting that the schemes are “fundamentally and ideologically different” from the farm loan waivers announced by other states, Sarma said the schemes are a testimony to the government’s small tribute to the memory of those farmers who sacrifices their lives during the Patharughat uprising.