FM checks loan waiver ground realities, skips inflation

June 6th, 2008 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

Chandigarh, June 6 (IANS) Union finance minister P. Chidambaram Friday chose to skip inflation - which rose to a 45-month high of 8.24 per cent - as he visited select areas in Punjab and Haryana to assess the implementation of the Rs.716 billion (Rs.71,600 crore) loan waiver scheme for farmers announced by the government. Chidambaram refused to take any question from news persons on inflation saying he would only talk of the loan waiver scheme.

The finance minister had Friday posted his comments on the inflation issue on his website taking on the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners for “not giving any concrete suggestions on controlling inflation and just criticizing” it.

Under pressure to tame prices, Chidambaram has admitted that inflation was a problem and a result of the relentless rise in global commodity prices, notably crude oil.

On the loan waiver, the finance minister said it would benefit 43 million farmers since its scope had been widened now.

He said lists of expected beneficiaries would be prepared by banks by June 20 and put up at individual bank branches. “The scheme will be implemented by June 30 as announced,” he said.

Chidambaram visited farmers in Punjab near Shambu village and in Haryana near Ambala city. This was his first field visit to check ground realities of the loan waiver scheme.

Asked about what would be the status of farmers who had been paying loans regularly, the finance minister said the loan waiver scheme was for the “hard pressed”.

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