Free Press Journal

Maha: supplementary demand of Rs 20,000 crore for loan waiver


Mumbai: The BJP-led Maharashtra government today tabled supplementary demands of Rs 33,533 crore, its biggest so far, with the lion’s share — over Rs 20,000 crore — going for the farm loan waiver scheme announced last month.

Supplementary statement of expenditure for 2017-18 was tabled on the first day of the monsoon session of the state legislature today. The demand for the Cooperation Department said that it needed Rs 19,577 crore for the loan waiver scheme.

The Tribal Development Department said it needed Rs 1,000 crore to provide loan waiver for farmers belonging to the Scheduled Tribes.

Thus, the total supplementary demand for the loan waiver was over Rs 20,000 crore, while the government had earlier said that the scheme will cost Rs 34,022 crore.

This led to the opposition asking, in the Assembly, how the government would provide for the shortfall of Rs 14,000 crore. “What about the remaining Rs 14,000 crore? Had the government fooled the farmers earlier?” asked the state NCP chief Sunil Tatkare.

The Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, wanted to know why the government was asking the farmers to fill up forms. “The government has complete information about farmers’ loans. Why do the farmers have to fill even a single form?” he asked.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The government is ready to discuss loan waiver with the opposition. Opposition leaders should not forget that the government has asked for Rs 20,000 crore which we propose to use for the loan waiver scheme.”

The Urban Development Department presented supplementary demand of Rs 7,961.97 crore. Ninety per cent of this amount is for a reimbursement to local bodies to make up for the Local Body Tax, which was abolished with the roll-out of Goods and Service Tax (GST). The state government will be paying Rs 7,356.53 crore to municipal bodies, including Mumbai, this year; the amount is likely to increase by 8-10 per cent every year.

Supplementary demands of the Public Health Department added up to Rs 1,710.04 crore, followed by the Water Resources Department (Rs 500.21 crore).

Former chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan pointed out that the government didn’t have any additional resources. “The money comes after introducing cuts of up to 20 per cent in the revenue expenditure. The financial condition of the state does not allow introduction of new infrastructure projects,” he said.

In December 2015, supplementary demands of the BJP-led government were of Rs 16,000 crore; it had tabled supplementary demands of Rs 13,000 crore in July 2016.