Loan waiver will not benefit most farmers: Left

February 29th, 2008 - 7:39 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) The Rs.60,000 crore (Rs.600 billion or $15 billion) loan waiver announced in the union budget 2008-09 will only help those farmers who have taken loans from government banks, leaving out a large number of them who have borrowed from private lenders, the Left said Friday. “We welcome the move to waive off the farmers’ loans. But it is applicable to only those who have taken money from the nationalized and scheduled banks, who comprise just one third of the farmers in distress,” said Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury after Finance Minister P. Chidambaram presented his budget.

“Two thirds of the farmers have borrowed money from private money lenders. The bulk of suicides are taking place among them,” Yechury told reporters in the parliament complex.

The CPI-M politburo member also pointed out that the money for loan waiver has not been allocated in the budget. “The finance minister may be planning to issue bonds in favour of the banks to meet this. If this is how he wanted it, he should not have waited for the budget to do this.”

Appreciating the union budget for its “populist” measures, the CPI-M however said it fell short of requirements of investment in infrastructure and welfare schemes and “its own potential”.

“There has been an increase in the allocations for health, education and other social sectors, but not to the extent that even the budget is allowing,” he said, given the amount of money the government expects to make in the coming fiscal.

The Left leader said the finance minister was “preoccupied” with meeting the target of containing fiscal deficit rather than using the money for infrastructure development.

Other criticisms by the communists were that the budget did not address the issue of inflation and strengthen the public distribution system.

Terming the budget as one with an “eye on elections”, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Dasgupta said: “The finance minister has not reduced the interest rate of farmers’ loans. So the waiver will just be one-time relief. He has camouflaged his intentions in the budget. He has not imposed any additional tax on corporates.”

Another CPI leader D. Raja said the budget showed no deviation from the economic policies that has been followed by the Congress-led government.

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