Has the Yogi Govt bitten off more than it can chew? Farm loan waiver has set off a chain reaction elsewhere while Uttar Pradesh does not seem to have the money to implement the promise
With farmers up in arms in several states demanding crop loan waiver, resentment is brewing in Uttar Pradesh where despite the announcement, there is no clarity when and how the waiver will take effect.
Farmers’ associations in UP have warned of a MP-like situation if Government does not clarify its stand. Farmers have also staged protests in Bahraich and Lucknow in support of farmers in Madhya Pradesh while President of Rashtriya Kisan Manch , Shekhar Dixit, has threatened a Mandsaur-like stir if farmers’ problems are not addressed.
What added fuel to fire is the statement of Government spokesman and Health Minister in Yogi Government Sidharthnath Singh in Delhi where he claimed that farmers’ loans would be cleared in the next four years. The Pioneer quoted him saying that “loan waiver for farmers would be staggered for over four years and involve a total amount of ₹36,000 crore”.
“From the onset we knew that the crop loan waiver scheme is a big dhokha with farmers. BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised that crop loan would be waived; believing the assurance farmers voted for BJP and now Yogi government has stabbed farmers on their back,” Dixit said.
The day Government had announced the loan waiver scheme former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had said it was cheating with farmers because BJP had promised a blanket loan waiver but now it has put a cap on it by saying that only loan up to ₹1lakh would be waived.
UP is passing through a financial crisis. On the one hand it is committed to waive ₹36,000 crore crop loan while on the other it is morally bound to implement the recommendations of the 7th pay commission which requires ₹34,000 crore more. Besides, government is expected to spend ₹1,000 crore for oragnising the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad.
To make it worse, revenue collection is expected to slow down as excise and mining revenue would be lower because of the change in mining policy and non-opening of liquor outlets across the state following Supreme Court directives to shift liquor shops from Highways.
If one glances at last year’s budget the fiscal deficit was around ₹6000 crore and the then Akhilesh Yadav government had spent over ₹10,000 in launching new schemes.
UP Finance Minister Rajesh Agarwal admits that Government would need additional ₹70,000 crore and that this is a worry. We have our plan ready and will cross the bridge when we reach there, he told this reporter.
Biswajeet Banerjee – National Herald India