UP government has options to fund loan waiver, says minister of finance
The new government has just taken over. But we know the condition of state’s small and marginal farmers has deteriorated in the last few years, said Agarwal.Updated: Apr 27, 2017, 06:50 IST
Uttar Pradesh faces a major challenge on the financial front after the first state cabinet meeting, presided over by chief minister Yogi Adityanath, decided to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers to the tune of Rs 36,359 crore. Umesh Raghuvanshi spoke to minister for finance Rajesh Agarwal on the challenges ahead.
How challenging was the loan waiver decision?
Loan waiver was certainly a challenge. The new government has just taken over. But we know the condition of state’s small and marginal farmers has deteriorated in the last few years. Natural calamities have left a direct impact on agriculture production and the condition of farmers.
How will loan waiver be implemented?
The BJP decided to bring out a Sankalp Patra instead of a poll manifesto. The BJP leadership resolved to fulfil the commitments mentioned in the Sankalp Patra. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the loan would be waived in the first meeting of state cabinet. No other party has made such a categorical commitment. We had long meetings with the chief minister, officers and banks etc. to find out the total loan amount. The CM proposed the loan waiver and the cabinet happily approved it. We have started the procedure to take this to the state assembly in the annual budget for 2017-2018 in the days to come.
How will the government mobilise funds?
The decision to waive loans of small and marginal farmers up to Rs 1 lakh has been taken. We are considering options. The Centre has already indicated it would not provide any direct assistance. We will find a way out.
Will the government float kisan bonds?
We will propose all options to the CM and go ahead with whatever decision he takes. We will come up with the decision in the Vidhan Sabha. We are committed to bringing about an improvement in the condition of farmers. The state cabinet has decided to write off the dues of seven lakh small and marginal farmers. We have brought one-time settlement (OTS) to bring these farmers to the mainstream and make their future secure. We will request the economists to suggest a way out.
Are there other commitments too?
We have to pay arrears of the seventh pay commission to state government employees. This will also put an additional burden on the state exchequer.
What are other challenges that the government faces?
We are switching over to the GST. It’s a challenge but it is good for the state and traders. We will have to train the staff. We will ask respective departments to hold seminars and inform people about the advantages and disadvantages.
Did the new government receive empty coffers?
I am yet to see where the coffers are.
Will there be inquiries against financial irregularities?
Yes. We have come to know about irregularities in implementation of a number of schemes. There has been corruption. The CM has said there will be an inquiry in all such cases and those found guilty will be punished. There will be no political vendetta and we will not allow any public interest scheme to be affected. There will be no wastage of public money.
Has the CM ordered an inquiry into the sale of 21 sugar mills under the BSP government?
The CM has ordered an inquiry. The value of scrap would exceed the amount for which the sugar mills have been sold. The CM has also ordered action against the sugar mills that have not paid the dues of the farmers.