Punjab may fix higher debt waiver ceiling, tackle interest of bigger farmers

CHANDIGARH, Jun 19: Where Uttar Pradesh has limited the farm debt waiver to marginal farmers, Punjab could go in for a please-all policy by not only offering a relatively higher debt waiver ceiling for the marginal farmers but also partly taking care of the interest element for the medium and big farmers.

higher debt

While a majority of farmers’ unions are demanding waiver of up to Rs 10 lakh debt, this would be virtually impossible for the state to bear such a burden.

Sources said that agriculture economist T Haque-headed expert panel, which took inputs from farmers and bankers last week, could fix a higher ceiling close Rs 5 lakh for loan waiver for marginal farmers. This would be in line with the fact that a sizable chunk of debt ridden farmers owe up to Rs 3 lakh to financial institutions or moneylenders.
Similarly, it may recommend that the state takes over interest on loans for up to Rs 1 lakh for farmers with comparatively bigger landholdings.

The panel may have to go a step beyond UP as there were 2.25 crore farmers there out of which around 86 lakh had small debts of Rs 1 lakh. In Punjab, the beneficiaries of waiver for small and marginal farmers would only be around five lakh, who have less than two acres of land. In UP, 86 lakh farmers benefited from the waiver. Therefore in Punjab, he said, financial sector is more developed and farmers also raise higher loans.

“There have been indications that there will be something for every category of farmers. The panel had also sought for segment-wise agriculture loan-related information from nationalized, private and cooperative banks,” said an official who attended the meetings.

News Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com