Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on Thursday announced a further waiver of farm loans in an attempt to take the wind out of BJP’s sails, ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He also chose to not to accede to JD(S)-Congress Coordination Committee chairman Siddaramaiah’s demand for a rollback of tax hikes on petrol and diesel.
The new round of sops from Kumaraswamy covers loans borrowed from cooperative banks of up to Rs 1 lakh, as of July 10, 2018. These are running crop loans (non-NPA), and their waiver would mean an additional hit of Rs 10,700 crore. Since former CM Siddaramaiah had written off cooperative loans of up to Rs 50,000, Thursday’s announcement will cover the rest.
This will take total burden from loan waivers to Rs 39,700 crore, according to revised calculations. The write-offs are limited to crop loans. Significant though was the CM referring to Siddaramaiah’s demands.
In a letter, the former CM wanted the quota of rice under the Anna Bhagya scheme restored to 7 kg per head as before, and increase in rates of taxes on petrol and diesel rolled back, in line with the stand the Congress party has taken at the national level.
The CM said the government will soon take a call on the first one, but rejected the second on the grounds that the State needed more resources to bail out the farm sector and fund other welfare schemes.
Prodded by criticism by former Congress Minister HK Patil, Kumaraswamy also clarified that the Budget has already provided a support of Rs 500 crore to the welfare of minorities. Patil had been vocal in his criticism of the budget, saying it had ignored minorities who always stood by the Congress.
In a lengthy reply to the discussion on the JD(S) -Congress coalition government’s first Budget, that was marked in the end by walk-out by the Opposition BJP, the CM maintained that the prices of petrol and diesel in Karnataka were lowest in the country. After implementation of GST, the state has few sources to mop up additional revenue except look at avenues like autofuel.
The NDA regime, he said, had raised the prices of petrol and diesel 11 times since coming to power. The Opposit ion BJP protested the rate hike on the grounds that Karnataka would stand to gain at the expense of consumer every time there is a spike in crude oil prices in global markets.
PSU BANK LOANS
Farmers owed Rs 10,528 cr to the five nationalised banks. They owned Rs 3112 cr to Canara Bank, Rs 1180 cr to Corporation Bank, Rs 2426 cr to Syndicate Bank, Rs 3060 cr to SBI and Rs 750 crore to Vijaya Bank.
Source: Economic Times