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PUNJAB-Loan waiver for landless farm workers to cost govt ₹450cr

January 17, 2019 07:18 AM


Loan waiver for landless farm workers to cost govt ₹450cr


The Punjab Congress government will have to bear an additional burden of around Rs 450 crore to fulfill its promise of loan waiver scheme to around 2.60 lakh landless farm labourers across the state.

According to initial details collected by the government from cooperative banks, around 2.60 lakh landless farmers have taken loans from these banks. Though most of these landless farmers are repaying the loan interest, they have not paid the principal amount, which comes to an average of Rs 25,000 per farmer. This data has been shared by the cooperative department with the chief minister’s office. The government is interested in rolling out the first phase of this scheme before the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls comes into force some time by April.

A senior officer privy to the development said these are initial figures and may change later, once more details and clarification come in from the banks. “We have sought some more information from the field and cooperative banks. The final decision about the loan waiver would be taken only after complete information comes in,” said the officer. The cooperative banks have been asked about specific details of the principal loan amount extended to each landless farmer and the interest accumulated on that amount.

Since commercial banks do not extend loans to landless labourers, the state government has decided to waive off loans taken by landless farmers from the state cooperative banks. On January 2, the Punjab cabinet had given its in principle approval for this loan waiver scheme. Even finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal was asked in the meeting to make arrangement of around Rs 400 crore for the scheme.

In its farm debt waiver schemes, the government has till date disbursed Rs 3,481 crore to 2.36 lakh marginal farmers owning upto 2.5-acre land who had taken loans from cooperative as well as commercial banks.

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