CM Captain Amarinder Singh has directed the T Haq Committee to expedite the submission of its report, with clearly identified eligibility criteria and modalities to waive off loans of the farmers in the state.
Chairing a meeting of the committee, CM reiterated his government’s commitment to farm debt waiver and issued clear instructions to the committee, and other concerned officials, to prepare a complete roadmap for time-bound waiver of the loans as announced by his government in line with the Congress poll promises.
The meeting also mulled the issue of multiple crop loans by farmers, and the committee was directed to go into the matter in detail and come out with conclusive ways and means to see how best to deal with it in the interest of the farmers.
Amarinder told the meeting that he was also simultaneously pursuing with the central government various initiatives to provide relief to the distressed farming community of the state. In a letter to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the chief minister has sought a one-time exemption to the state government from the provisions of the FRBM Act, 2003 that restrict its borrowings to a maximum of 3% of the GSDP, which comes to Rs. 12,819 crore. He said he had sought permission from the Centre to allow the state government to raise additional borrowings of Rs.10,000 crore from financial institutions/market to help mitigate the financial distress of the farmers.
Pointing out that on the basis of consultations within the Haq-led expert group the state government had decided to provide an institutional loan waiver up to Rs. 2.00 lac to marginal and small farmers, Captain said, in his letter, that through this debt relief, the state was proposing to give relief to around 10.25 lac farmers and the relief package would amount to Rs. 10,000 crore (approx.).
In view of the urgency and importance of the issue, a delegation led by State Finance Minister had met Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as well as Chairman, NABARD on July 26-27, 2017. Though the RBI had said the state would have to arrange funds from its own resources/borrowings for the proposed debt relief scheme, given the constraint of resources, it would not be possible to extend this support to farmers from the state’s own resources, said Amarinder.
Noting that the expected gap in revenues and expenditure in Financial Year 2017-18 had been projected at Rs. 10,273 crore, he said the state would need to raise loans for this additional liability, but the provisions of FRBM Act, 2003, restrict State Government borrowings to a maximum of 3% of the GSDP, which comes to Rs. 12,81 crore. As a result, the State was not able to extend this debt relief scheme to the farmers until the limit of borrowings under FRBM Act, 2003, was relaxed and enhanced as a special dispensation for this purpose, he added.
The state Chief Secretary had already taken up the matter with the Finance Secretary, Government of India, vide his letter no. SF/462 dated 28.7.2017, Captain wrote, adding that the State Government was also, on its part, making all out efforts to mobilize additional resources and reduce its revenue expenditure through various measures viz. imposition of professional tax, rationalization of user charges/taxes etc., which were at advanced stage of decision/ implementation.
Further, he said that, the receipt of various cess/fee which were so far being collected and spent directly by various institutions, had already been transferred to the consolidated fund of the State. Moreover, the State was likely to earn handsome growth in revenues under the GST regime, he said, adding that these additional resources shall be helpful in servicing the debt of the State.
He told the meeting that the farmers of the state had suffered enough and it was his government’s responsibility to provide early succor to them.