Badal terms central government farm loan waiver a `big fraud’

March 3rd, 2008 - 9:09 pm ICT by admin  

Chandigarh, March 3 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Monday termed the central government’s Rs.600 billion ($15 billion) loan waiver for the farmers, announced in the national budget, a “huge fraud on innocent and poor farmers of the country”. The loan waiver scheme was nothing more than “partial debt default readjustment scheme”, Badal said, adding that the scheme was a cruel joke on the farmers and only a gimmick by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government with an eye to next year’s general election. He was talking to media persons here Monday.

Describing the scheme as a “cosmetic exercise”, Badal demanded that the central government should make the loan waiver relief in accordance with the contribution of individual states to the country’s food grain kitty.

“If this is done, Punjab, which puts in over 50 percent of the food grain in the national pool, will get Rs.300 billion out of the announced scheme,” declared Badal, adding that by doing this, the central government would be doing no favour to the state but would merely be giving it its due.

“The loan waiver is the biggest misnomer of this century,” said Badal, who is one of the biggest farmers in Punjab.

He said the information collected by his government indicated that farmers in Punjab, who have a collective debt of Rs.350 billion, would benefit from the scheme only to the tune of Rs.12.23 billion.

“This is just three percent of their total debt liability. Much of the debt, nearly Rs.120 billion, is from private money-lenders,” he pointed out.

He lamented that the new scheme did not talk about the debt-ridden farm labourers who number about 1.5 million.

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