Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has announced that he will fulfill his Rs 46,000-crore loan waiver commitment made to farmers “completely” in the Congress-JDS coalition government’s second budget that he is scheduled to present on February 8.
The farm loan waiver scheme would be implemented in one stroke with required allocation in the budget instead of completing the process in four stages as was planned earlier, he said, as he took on the state and national BJP leadership for their relentless attack on him on the issue.
Kumaraswamy has come in the line of fire of BJP leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been mocking the scheme, saying it had only offered a “lollipop” for an insignificant number of farmers.
The JDS leader was also critical of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for his reported comment at the BJP National Convention meet in New Delhi on Friday that the state government had promised waiver but was issuing notice to farmers for loan recovery.
Kumaraswamy said notices were being issued by nationalised banks that come under the central government.
“This shows the mean mentality of BJP leaders. This shows how lightly they have taken the issue of solving farmers’ worries.”
“…February 8. I will present a new budget of 2019-20. We have announced as a cabinet decision that loan waiver will be in four stages, we will not take it to four stages,” Kumaraswamy told PTI in an interview.
“We are working out on that. In the coming budget I will be clearing the complete loan waiver. I will not take four years. I want to bring it to the notice of central BJP leaders — it is not lollipop,” he said.
Kumaraswamy asserted that it would be done without violating the fiscal responsibility.
“If an elected government makes up its mind, without violating fiscal responsibility, how it can succeed in implementing its programmes and commitment…I am going to prove it,” he said.
“…Without violating fiscal responsibility Act I’m clearing it completely with allocation for it. In the next financial year, the money that will be released will clear the Rs 46,000 crore loan waiver commitment made,” he added.
Seeking to implement a key poll promise of the JDS, the Kumaraswamy government had announced over Rs 46,000-crore loan waiver scheme in July. But it has been bogged down by several issues, particularly relating to nationalised banks.
While defending the time taken in implementing loan waiver, the chief minister said, the state’s scheme would become a model for other states in the days to come.
“Today in front of me is Rs 46,000 crore farm loan from nationalized and cooperative banks. I have created a separate cell for this and have appointed an IAS officer to work on this for 24 hours. CMO- my office is monitoring it every day. Our officials are working effectively so that the loan waiver reaches our farmers,” he said.
He said guidelines for implementation of farm loan waiver scheme by his government would become a model for any government in future that decides to waive loans.
Noting that till January 11, loan waiver has reached 1,70,000 farmers for which about Rs 900 crore money has been released, he highlighted that in the budget presented in July after coming to power, Rs 9,000 crore was already allocated for loan waiver in the first year.
“By January 31, about Rs 11-12 lakh farmers will get the loan waive benefit,” he said, as he pointed out there was much longer delay by various state governments in the past, while it was just seven months since he is in power.
“UPA government had announced about Rs 70,000 crore loan waiver, you can crosscheck how long it took for the money to reach. Many states which came to power before me and announced waiver like — Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh — you can check how much money has gone till now. It’s been seven months for me,” he added.
Noting that discussions were on with nationalised banks, and the government was expecting to get some relaxation in the backdrop of one-time settlement plan, he said, out of Rs 9,500 crore loan waiver details of cooperative banks that the state has, some of them were bogus claims.
“With the guidelines that we have, where certain documents need to be submitted, those misusing will be eliminated,” he said.
Kumaraswamy said that implementation of farm loan waiver scheme was his “biggest achievement” so far, while highlighting the difficulties in a coalition setup.
Explaining the situation he was in when he assumed office, he said he had to continue implementation of programmes of the previous Siddaramaiah government and face BJP criticism that he had not waived loan within 24 hours of coming to power as promised in the JDS manifesto.
Listing out programmes under implementation like “Badavara Bandhu”, a scheme to disburse interest-free loans to street vendors and small traders, and the Israel model of farming, Kumaraswamy said, “I have other plans too for the next budget.”