The farmers of Rajasthan may have to wait many more months to realise their dream of loans being waived-off as a report by the DNA claims that the Rajasthan government may take a longer time to implement the scheme of the loan-waiver in the state.
The report suggests that there is no clear timeline yet on how to proceed regarding the loan-waiver scheme and it will take a lot more time than expected to distribute loan waiver certificates to the farmers. Officials have added that there are practical issues and even during the previous government, the first set of certificates could only be issued in June this year after the loan waiver had been announced in February.
The loan waiver scheme announced two days back by the Congress government will have an additional burden of Rs 18,000 crore on the state exchequer. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot has claimed that the previous BJP government’s farm waiver announcement, which hadn’t been executed fully, will also add to the burden to the government.
“Our government also has to bear a major part of the fiscal burden of the scheme announced by the previous BJP government, amounting to Rs 6,000 crore, taking the total loan burden to Rs 24,000 crore,” Ashok Gehlot said.
Reportedly, some loans, around Rs 10.5-crore borrowings of 27 lakh farmers have been taken from cooperative banks, while nearly 24 lakh farmers have defaulted on repayment of their loans to the nationalised banks.
The state government officials who had worked to implement such waiver announced by the previous Vasundhara Raje government said that the policy implementation will take time.
“When the last government declared a waiver of Rs 8,000 crore for small and marginal farmers in February, it took about a quarter of this fiscal to conceive and start issuing the first batch of waiver certificates,” an official said.
The officials said that the loan amount to waive-off is about three times the amount promised earlier and hence the distribution of loan waiver certificates to farmers will be delayed unless the government convinces the banks to avail funds in the coming months to ensure the implementation before the general elections due in May.
As the model code of conduct for the election is expected to enforced in March, it is very difficult to clear the dues of 50 lakh farmers by then, the official added.
The state finance department is reportedly looking for options to proceed over the waiving of farm loans in the state. The report says that the Rajasthan government has two options, the first is to lean on the government guarantee to the banks and the other being the inclusion of loan waiver into the state budget, which will take a toll the fiscal health of the state and increase the state’s fiscal deficit.
“Last time the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) had agreed to give a loan of Rs 5,000 crore after the state government gave a guarantee to Rajasthan State Cooperative Bank for writing off farmer debts during Raje government,” an official was quoted saying in the DNA report.
A senior official said that if the government includes this loan waiver in its budget, it shall have to delay some projects and divert money from them into the implementation of the loan waiver scheme. The loan waiver amount of Rs 24,000 crore is estimated to be 11 percent of the total revenue outlay of Rs 2,12,325 crore. The loan waiver will increase the state’s fiscal deficit, which has already reached at Rs 28,011 crore in 2018-19, said an official.
The Rajasthan government seems to be following the footsteps of Madhya Pradesh government of inserting new clauses against farm loan waive-off contrary to unconditional waive-off boasted by Congress party president Rahul Gandhi. A farmer has already lost his life in Madhya Pradesh due to the politics of loan-waivers after he found that he was not eligible for a waiver.
Similarly, two farmers have ended their lives in the past week after the Congress-JDS led Karnataka government failed to waive-off the farm loans and several others have now received repayment notices against the claims of Rahul Gandhi who had said that they have completely written off loans in the state of Karnataka.