Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh urged the central government to relax the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, 2003, and enhance the borrowing limit to enable the state government to meets its agriculture debt waiver commitments.
In separate meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley here, the Chief Minister sought their intervention to direct the launch of these measures for the support of the financially beleaguered state.
He called upon them to enhance the borrowing limit by Rs. 10,000 crore to help the State Government procure additional market loans for the Debt Waiver/ Relief Scheme, aimed at providing succor to the debt-ridden farmers, who were resorting to extreme measures, including suicide, in sheer desperation.
Chief Minister later expressed the hope for positive intervention by the central government to help the state in rescuing Punjab’s farmers from the vicious cycle of debt.
According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), Captain Amarinder pointed out at the meetings that his government had waived off crop loans up to Rs. 2 lac for all small and marginal farmers, while providing debt relief up to Rs.2 lac to marginal farmers having total debt of over Rs.2 lac each. Besides, the state government had also decided to take over the total debt of suicide- affected families.
With total beneficiaries of 10.25 lac farming families, the financial implication of these steps was to the tune of Rs.9500 crore, said the Chief Minister adding that the current annual borrowing limit at 3 per cent of the GSDP amounted to Rs.12,819 crore, leaving a gap of Rs. 10,273 between revenue and expenditure.
Thus, additional market borrowings are required by the State Government to fund its Debt Waiver Scheme and rescue the farmers from the vicious debt cycle, he added.
Punjab Finance Minister, Manpreet Badal, and some senior officials accompanied the Chief Minister for his meeting with Jaitley.