Karnataka waives Rs 34,000 cr farm loans

Bengaluru, July 5 (IANS) Karnataka on Thursday waived farm loans totalling Rs 34,000 crore, giving relief to distressed farmers across the state.

“I propose to waive farm loans totalling Rs 34,000 crore, with Rs 2 lakh per farmer family,” Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy announced in the Assembly while presenting his maiden state budget for fiscal 2018-19.

“All crop loans defaulted by farmers to December 31, 2017 are waived in the first stage. Only loans borrowed from district cooperative banks and state cooperatives are waived in the first stage.”

The budget has also proposed to allot Rs 6,500 crore to enable farmers avail new loans after they submit a clearance certificate from the department concerned that their loan arrears have been waived.

“All crop loans defaulted up to December 2017 are waived in the first stage. Farmers who repaid loans within the stipulated time will be entitled to fresh credit up to Rs 25,000 or repaid amount, whichever is less,” the Chief Minister said.

The budget, however, proposes to tax people by increasing petrol price by Rs 1.14 per litre and diesel Rs 1.12 per litre.

“I also propose to increase excise duty on Indian made foreign liquor by 4 per cent to raise additional revenue for meeting the budget expenditure,” Kumaraswamy said.

Power tariff will also be increased by 20 paise per unit.

Assuring the legislators and the people that his coalition government would continue the flagship programmes of the previous Congress government, Kumaraswamy told the legislators that the overall size of the state budget would be Rs 2,13,734 crore.

Under the free Annabhagya (rice) scheme, the quantity of rice for free distribution has been cut to 5 kg from 7 kg per individual per month.

“I propose to allocate Rs 150 crore for agriculture development based on Israel mode. We will focus on agriculture as well as the services sector,” the Chief Minister said.

The budget has earmarked Rs 50 crore for natural farming on the lines of Andhra Pradesh for higher yields and better price.

As Kumaraswamy holds the finance portfolio, he decided to present a full budget of the Janata Dal-Secular-Congress government.

For key sectors like education, the allocation is Rs 26,581 crore, water resources Rs 18,142 crore, urban development Rs 17,727 crore, energy Rs 14,499 crore, social welfare Rs 14,123 crore and Public Works Department (PWD) 10,200 crore.

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