The Congress on Wednesday asked the government to announce a national farm loan waiver in the upcoming Union Budget and spell out measures to ensure that farmers' income doubles by 2022.
Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan demanded reduction in GST rates on agriculture inputs to less than 5 per cent and said the government should announce measures like universal basic income to put more money in the hands of farmers and the poor so that their consumption increases.
He demanded that the government bring petrol and diesel under the GST regime as it would help provide relief to the farmers, who have been paying higher rates, and said the Centre had earned over Rs 13.5 lakh crore by way of taxes on petroleum products.
He said the government must tell how much has farmers' income increased in the last five years under it, as part of its promise of doubling farmers'' income by 2022.
"We want to know, as we are aware that nothing has happened so far. The budget should also provide a detailed outline of how to double farmers'' income by 2022 and what steps have been taken," he told reporters.
Mr Chavan said the government should announce a national farm loan waiver on the lines of the previous UPA government''s step undertaken in 2008 to benefit 14 crore farmer families in the country.
"We demand that the government should put more money in the hands of 95 per cent poor who live in rural areas and help improve consumption through schemes like MNREGA.
"The government should also bring a universal basic income scheme to ensure that there is direct benefit to people and money should go into their accounts directly to help improve consumption levels," he said.
Mr Chavan, a former chief minister of Maharashtra, said for farmers' income to double by 2022 the agriculture sector has to grow by at least 12 per cent compounded annually.
But, under the Modi government the agriculture sector has seen a growth of only 2.9 per cent in the last five years, he noted, wondering how this will double farm incomes.
He said this has created doubts over the government's claims of making India a USD 5-trillion economy by 2024, as the agriculture sector has a contribution of over 15.5 per cent in the country''s GDP but it is growing slowly.
"How will India's dream of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy be accomplished," he asked.
Mr Chavan also accused the central government of owing money to states, with Rs 15,000 crore to Maharashtra alone. The central government is not honouring its commitment to states, he alleged.
He also said that the global community is also worried about the statistics provided by the central government on the economic parameters, including the GDP growth.
"There is a lot of jugglery of figures going on and therefore, the credibility of India is being questioned," he alleged.
The Congress leader said the zero budget natural farming is a "bogus scheme" and there should be a scientific investigation into it.
He also alleged that the crop insurance scheme is a "failure", as only big insurance companies are benefitting, going by the compensation of only Rs 153 crore paid against premium collected to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore from farmers. "This is very unfair," he said.