Farm loan waiver: Panel to identify beneficiaries

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New Delhi, May 20: An expert committee set up by the state government will meet here on Tuesday to deliberate on key issues related to farm loan waiver, including the identification of beneficiaries.

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The panel, headed by noted agriculture economist and NITI Aayog adviser Dr T Haque, includes Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University; Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Agriculture Commissioner; and PK Joshi, South Asia Director, International Food Policy Research Institute.

Farm loan waiver was among the Congress’ major promises during the Assembly elections earlier this year.A senior Aayog official said: “Considering the loan waiver’s massive financial implications and the state’s fiscal health, the first step will be to identify the beneficiaries. Most likely, a decision will be taken in favour of small and marginal farmers, who own less than 5 acres.

”The panel will also discuss the modalities for the repayment of bank loans and generating funds from available resources, the official added.The Centre has already refused to share the financial burden with states in waiving farm loans.

In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP government has already announced loan waiver to the tune of Rs 36,359 crore for small and marginal farmers.Punjab farmers’ debt is estimated to be around Rs 69,000 crore. It is learnt that during the panel’s first meeting held recently in Chandigarh, Suresh Kumar, Chief Principal Secretary to the CM, had conveyed to Dr Haque that the government wanted to roll out the farm loan waiver during the Budget session in June.

www.tribuneindia.com

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