Cash crunch: Govt’s fresh steps to help farmers, push digital payments | india-news | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Oct 21, 2017-Saturday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Cash crunch: Govt’s fresh steps to help farmers, push digital payments

The government has allowed the state-run lender Nabard to disburse Rs 21,000 crore to farmers to help them sow winter crops, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday.

black money crackdown Updated: Nov 23, 2016 12:17 IST
A farmer sits on sacks of paddy crops as he waits for customers after the government withdrew the circulation of high denomination banknotes, in Sanand village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
A farmer sits on sacks of paddy crops as he waits for customers after the government withdrew the circulation of high denomination banknotes, in Sanand village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.(Reuters Photo)

The government has allowed the state-run lender Nabard to disburse Rs 21,000 crore to farmers to help them sow winter crops, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday.

It has also removed service charge – the levy that shops pay banks for card payments— on debit cards till December 31.

The decisions were among a new set of steps announced to ease cash crunch two weeks after the government scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that has left millions of farmers with little money to buy seeds and fertilisers for winter crops.

Das said the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) would disburse the money through district central co-operative banks. Small farmers get 40% of their credit from cooperative banks, he said.

The government had on Monday allowed farmers to buy seeds using old Rs 500 notes.

Read | Scrapped high-value banknotes not valid for deposits in small saving schemes

Banks, Das said, had agreed have to waive service charge on debit cards till December 31. To encourage digital transactions, the Reserve Bank of India had doubled the limit of e-wallets from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000.

There would be no service charge on online rail bookings till December 31. All digital payments on non-smart phones would be free of charge for the rest of the year after service providers waived 50 paise per transaction cost. Earlier, the telecom regulator had brought down the charge to 50 paise from Rs 1.50.

Das said 82,000 ATMs had been re-calibrated in the country so far. India has around 2.2 lakh ATMs but a majority of them are cannot disburse the new Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 notes that have a new design and shape.

The government’s decision to scrap high-value notes that accounted for 86% of the currency in circulation triggered cash chaos.

People are forced to line up for hours, sometimes overnight, outside banks and ATMs to get cash since India is primarily a cash economy.

A joint report by Google India and the Boston Consulting Group said non-cash transactions constituted only 22% of all consumer payments.

Read | Farmers fear lost crops and income after Modi govt’s demonetisation move

The situation is worse in villages where a large number of people are unbanked.

The government would focus on getting more cash to rural areas in the coming days, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said on Tuesday.

The opposition has accused the government of unleashing financial anarchy and held a protest in Parliament complex on Wednesday morning.

The winter session of Parliament, which began on November 16, has been marred by frequent disruptions, with the Opposition insisting that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi be present in the House to answer their queries.