Expectation about succour for rural economy rises

As Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy unveils the maiden budget of the Janata Dal (S)-Congress coalition government in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, there is hope of succour for the rural economy, particularly the farm sector.

The budget for 2018-19 is expected to announce a mega farm loan waiver, estimated at ₹35,000 crore, for the benefit of small and marginal farmers, who have been financially hit by four years of drought over the last five years.

In a bid to claim credit for the farm loan waiver, a day before presentation of the budget, AICC president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “on the eve of Karnataka budget, I am confident our Congress-Janata Dal (S) coalition government will act on our commitment to waive farmer loans and to make farming more profitable. This budget is an opportunity for our government to make Karnataka a beacon of hope for farmers all across India.”

Sources said the Chief Minister, who holds the Finance portfolio, is expected to announce waiver of crop loans borrowed from cooperative banks and nationalised banks by fixing an upper limit. He is also expected to announce conditions such as the cut-off date, upper limit of the loan amount, size of land holdings, and type of farm loan for writing off loans.

The proposed farm loan waiver scheme is expected to tighten the State’s resources since the government has already effected a 30% hike in salary of its employees and pension, which has resulted in an additional expenditure of over ₹10,508 crore a year.

However, the robust growth in the State’s GST collections and timely compensation by the Centre would help the State to tide over the financial implications, sources said.

The Opposition BJP has demanded that Mr. Kumaraswamy announce farm loan waiver, as promised in the party manifesto.

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