- Farm loan waivers had been high on agenda of JD(S) ahead of the polls
- The waiver would apply to crop loans of up to Rs. 2 lakh
- Relief for agrarian community was the centerpiece this budget
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy today announced a loan waiver scheme for farmers -- a key promise ahead of assembly elections amid farmer suicides and countrywide protests. The waiver, which would cost the state Rs 34,000 crore, would apply to crop loans of up to Rs 2 lakh. Besides, arrears will be waived for defaulters so they can get fresh loans. For this, the Chief Minister said, Rs 6,500 crore has been earmarked in the 2018-2019 budget.
There are incentives for farmers who repaid loans in time. "I have decided to credit the repaid loan amount or Rs 25,000, whichever is less, to each farmer's account," Mr Kumaraswamy said in his budget speech.
Later, Mr Kumaraswamy told NDTV that Rs 34,000 crore "will be disbursed in 4 phases... 10,500 crores has already been allotted in this budget."
The relief for the agrarian community was the centerpiece of the maiden budget of the state's Congress-JD(S) government announced by Chief Minister Kumaraswamy today.
The measures had been cleared in the meeting held by the coordination committee of the Congress and Mr Kumaraswamy's JD(S) held on Sunday. The committee had also approved irrigation projects worth Rs. 1.25 lakh crore.
The farm loan waivers had been high on the agenda of the JD(S) ahead of the elections. Mr Kumaraswamy had promised that he would waive all farm loans within 24 hours of coming to power.
Ahead of the budget, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had also mentioned the issue in a tweet:
On the eve of the Karnataka Budget, I'm confident our Congress-JDS coalition Govt will act on our commitment to waive farmer loans & to make farming more profitable.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 4, 2018
This budget is an opportunity for our Govt. to make Karnataka a beacon of hope for farmers all across India.
The Chief Minister has also proposed to increase power tariff by 20 paise per unit and levy a higher tax on fuel. Petrol prices will go up by Rs 1.14 per litre and diesel by 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," said Mr Kumaraswamy.
As the opposition BJP pointed fingers at the loan waivers and hikes, Mr Kumaraswamy told NDTV that the hike in fuel, electricity prices is negligible. "I can't answer each criticism of the BJP - they see everything with jaundiced eyes," he added.
Mr Kumaraswamy had gone ahead with the budget presentation despite the disapproval of His predecessor Siddaramaiah, who was heard questioning the need for a new budget citing the one he presented in February, before the assembly elections. The two allies however, claimed that there was no rift within the alliance.
Mr Kumaraswamy's budget has retained all the welfare schemes of the previous Congress government -- including rice at Rs 1 a kg to the poor and Indira Canteens that serve low-cost meals.