A day after Congress President Rahul Gandhi promised a nationwide waiver of farm loans, the BJP-led Assam government on Wednesday announced a credit subsidy, relief of interest on farm loans and incentives for farmers across the state.
Assam finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced the three new schemes for the farmers on Wednesday and added the schemes are being launched on the occasion of 125th anniversary of farmers' uprising at Pothorughat in Darrang district where 140 farmers had laid down their lives.
"This is the 125th anniversary of farmers' uprising of Pothorughat. We want to pay tribute to the farmers whose contribution to the economy is unparalleled. The schemes will benefit 27 lakh farmers' families spread over 26,000 villages of Assam," Sarma said on Tuesday.
He said the schemes will result in an expenditure of Rs. 1,000 crore.
"The Assam Farmers' Credit Subsidy Scheme (AFCSS) will ensure that the government will deposit 25 per cent of the total amount paid by farmers for loans availed between April 1 this year to March 31 next year, subject to a maximum limit of Rs 25,000," Sarma said, addressing a press conference on Wednesday.
"This scheme will cover all sorts of term crop loans and short-term loans for plantation such as tea and rubber availed of between the period. The government of Assam will also extend a benefit of 25 per cent of the outstanding amount of the loans availed of by the farmer between the same period with a cap of Rs 25,000 per such account if the farmer is depositing the balance amount to clear the outstanding dues," he said.
"Through the Assam Farmers' Interest Relief Scheme (AFIRS), the government will extend special support to the prompt paying farmers by providing interest subvention of four percent on short-term crop loans up to a limit of Rs 2 lakh," said the minister.
Asked if the schemes are announced to counter the promises of the Congress President, Sarma said what Assam has announced is more than a farm loan waiver, adding that subject to necessary budget provisions, the state government may consider extension of these three schemes in subsequent years.
"This has nothing to do with politics. We have already made a budgetary provision. It takes time in Assam for things to materialize. We could have declared these before the panchayat polls, which would have increased some seats for us," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)