Debt waiver: Haque panel to meet farmers, bankers on June 15
The report will be submitted to chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh who will then take a final call on farm debt waiver.punjab Updated: Jun 13, 2017 09:48 IST
The expert group led by Dr T Haque to assess the quantum of agriculture debt in Punjab will meet farmers’ bodies and bankers on June 15 to give final shape its report.
The report will be submitted to chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh who will then take a final call on farm debt waiver.
State farmers have already started protests seeking a “complete waiver” as promised by the Congress in the run-up to the assembly polls.
“We want a complete loan waiver,” said Bharatiya Kisan Union president Balbir Singh Rajewal.
“We will wait for the government’s announcement on debt waiver. But it should be a complete waiver, he said.
Rajewal said the farmers’ bodies would put up a strong case before the Dr Haque, former chairman of the commission for agricultural costs and prices.
The panel is expected to give an interim report by June 17. On the basis of the report, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal will make the budgetary provisions, to be announced in his budget speech on June 20.
Contrary to complete waiver demand, the state government declared that only the needy farmers would get a waiver. “Well-to-do farmers will not get waiver, the entire task initiated by our government was to know who needs a waiver,” said a top functionary of the state, accepting that it’s a daunting task to pinpoint who’s needy.
The state government estimated a debt of Rs 90,000 crore by March 31, 2016, on 10 lakh farmers in the state.
The uneven debt pattern is cause of worry for the government.
Citing figures, a top official said 5.71 lakh farmers, who own up to 2.5 acres of land, owe an aggregate debt of Rs 9,845 crore. Of these, only 35,000 farmers have a debt of Rs 4,500 crore, which means each of them owes Rs 13 lakh.
“A farmer who owns 2.5 acres couldn’t return Rs 13 lakh with the income from the farm,” said an official.
Of the total debt of Rs 90,000 crore, 2-lakh farmers (20%) owe around 75% of debt amounting to around Rs 63,000 crore, the official said.