1. Agriculture World

Will Congress’ Kisan Budget Solve Farmers Woes?

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo

The Congress on 2nd April revealed its 22-point agenda to address problems related to farmers, agriculture and farm labourers. These points included freedom from indebtedness or ‘Karz Mukti’ and redesigning rural employment programme. But the main highlight was the proposed ‘Kisan Budget.’

The Congress manifesto said, “So as to prioritize issues affecting the farming sector, we will present a separate budget for the farmers”.

This could mean having a separate Budget like the one Indian Railways had till 2016 or a dedicated segment in the General Budget itself.

In case of a separate Budget, the Kisan Budget will have a receipt & expenditure section. According to economists, the receipt Budget will have minimum entries as there are not several earning sources from this sector. On the other hand, the expenditure section will have the maximum entries. The Kisan Budget could be presented by Union Agriculture Minister.

But there are many economists who have dismissed this plan on the grounds that it cannot be like a regular or ordinary Budget wherein both income as well as expenditure has equal importance.

An economist said, “Kisan Budget, as promised, might not add anything more than what is underlined in the party manifesto, but it can help the Congress keep the narrative of the electoral debate focused on agrarian issues”.

Professor of National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), NR Bhanumurthy said there can be a dedicated section on agriculture in the General Budget, which will have the outlays of various line ministries associated with farm sector in one space. States like Madhya Pradesh have adopted this system.

Another issue that became debatable is how to tackle farm loans. The Congress’ manifesto said, “We will not stop with just offering a loan waiver or Karz Maafi. With a combination of remunerative prices, low input costs and assured access to institutional credit, we will place our farmers on the path to karz mukti”. It also said that there will be no criminal proceedings against any farmer who fail to repay the loans.

Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley commenting on this said, “It is not within the jurisdiction of the government. Some States have debt recovery law & a criminal case can be registered under it. Let the Congress-ruled States scrap this law.”

Source – Hindu BusinessLine

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