Punjab forms committee to study loan waiver scheme

March 5th, 2008 - 1:04 am ICT by admin  

Chandigarh, March 4 (IANS) The Punjab government Tuesday evening set up a committee to “study” the implications of the Rs.600 billion ($15 billion) farm loan waiver scheme, announced by the central government in the 2008-09 budget. The committee, headed by Punjab chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh and consisting of three financial commissioners and two other senior officers, will study the implications of the “so-called debt waiver scheme for farmers”, government spokesman Harcharan Bains said here.

The committee has been set up by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is critical of the loan waiver, saying it was only a poll gimmick and a mere re-adjustment of finances.

But the Congress party questioned the ruling Akali Dal’s criticism, accusing Badal of “lying and misleading people”.

“The Akalis should clear the confusion they created on the loan waiver. They should clarify first whether they are for or against the new scheme. One day they take credit for forcing the central government on announcing the loan waiver, and the other day they say there is nothing in the scheme,” Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari told IANS.

Bains said the general feeling in the Punjab government was that the net benefit of the debt default would be even less than the originally estimated two percent of the total amount.

The state government is demanding that the loan waiver scheme be offered to states on the basis of their food grain contribution to the country’s food grain kitty. Punjab accounts for nearly half of the total contribution to the nation’s food grain pool.

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