Telangana announces farm loan waiver of up to ₹1 lakh
The Telangana government on Friday announced a waiver of all crop loans up to ₹1 lakh taken by farmers before December 11, when the results of state assembly elections were declared and vaulted the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to power for a second successive term in India’s youngest state.
Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who also holds finance portfolio unveiled the waiver, which he promised in his election campaign, in a vote-on-account he presented in the assembly.
“Redeeming our promise, we are proposing to waive all agriculture term loans up to ₹1 lakh outstanding as on December 11, 2018. An amount of ₹6,000 crore has been proposed in the budget,” Rao, also known as KCR, said.
KCR said he was presenting a vote-on-account because the Bhartiya Janata Party-led Union government had on February 1 announced an interim budget before general elections later this year. A vote-on-account is a provision that enables the government to withdraw money from the state treasury to take care of expenses until the electoral process. The TRS government will present a full budget after the Centre unveils its own fiscal package after the elections, KCR said.
Political analyst and Osmania University professor K Nageshwar said there was no reason to call it a vote-on-account just because there was no clarity on devolution of funds from the Centre. “The state government can make a tentative estimate of central devolutions based on the last year’s allocations. After all, the new Finance Commission has not made any recommendations. Only reason I can guess is that KCR wants to put off implementation of schemes on the pretext of the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
The total outlay in the budget was Rs1.82 lakh crore. Revenue expenditure was ₹1,316 lakh crore and capital expenditure ₹32,815 crore. The estimated revenue surplus in 2019-20 would be ₹6,564 crore and fiscal deficit ₹27,749 crore, which is 2.81% of gross state domestic product (GSDP).
The state’s revenue for 2019-20 was estimated at ₹94,776 crore, in comparison with a revised estimate of 2018-19 at ₹72,777 crore.
KCR made a budgetary allocation of ₹20,107 crore for agriculture. For the Rythu Bandhu (friend of the farmer) scheme, which is aimed at providing financial assistance to farmers before every cropping season, the allocation was raised from ₹4,000 to ₹5,000 per acre per season, as promised before the elections. An amount of ₹12,000 crore has been allocated for the scheme. The CM announced an increase in pensions for senior citizens under the Aasara scheme from ₹1,000 to ₹2,016 per month. And the age limit for old-age pensions has also been reduced from 65 to 57 years. For differently abled persons, the monthly pension was increased from ₹1,500 to ₹3,016.