Govt to miss farmers’ debt relief deadline, says planner

Govt to miss farmers’ debt relief deadline, says planner
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First Published: Thu, Apr 10 2008. 12 21 AM IST
Updated: Thu, Apr 10 2008. 12 21 AM IST
New Delhi: Although the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, government promised to implement its marquee Rs60,000 crore farm debt relief package by 30 June, a plan panel member has doubted whether it could meet the deadline.
Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen said that it may not be possible to implement the entire package by that date, as the bank accounts frozen because of bad debt would only be unlocked by end-June.
“Individual cases have to be studied, banks have to identify individuals and individual accounts, interest on principal has to be sorted out, and they have to pass a particular set of instructions, which has not been issued. I agree with all those who are genuinely sceptical that that would have been achieved by June,” the planner said on Tuesday.
Reacting strongly to Sen’s assessment, Congress party spokesperson Manish Tiwari told Mint, “When a political decision has been taken and the entire weight of the UPA government is behind the decision, it is incumbent upon the administration to endeavour to deliver.”
“Expression of such doubts amounts to succumbing to the usual inertia of the bureaucracy. When the finance minister announced this deadline in the budget, he must have factored in all administrative requirements and I have no doubt the deadline will be met.”
Yashwant Sinha, former finance minister and Rajya Sabha member of the principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, said the banks would not act unless the Reserve Bank of India issued instructions.
“We had said at the outset that the deadline, for what was clearly an 11th-hour addition to the Budget, appeared far too ambitious,” Sinha said. “While public sector banks would find it relatively easier to deliver, the cooperative banks would need a much longer time simply because their records are not up to date.”
Much like the BJP, the Left parties said they doubted the government’s ability to deliver on time from the beginning.
Abani Roy, Rajya Sabha member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, one of the four Left Front constituents that lend critical outside support to the government, said, “The government knew very well it wouldn’t be able to deliver. Yet it promised, just as it has been promising to contain inflation, without actually delivering on the promise.”
Economist Parth J. Shah, president of the Centre for Civil Society, a New Delhi-based think tank, said the government would surely find a way of not admitting it had failed to meet the deadline, even if it did miss the deadline.
“Like all government programmes, the farm debt relief package, which is at best a quick fix rather than a long-term solution, will manage to meet the deadline, even if the deadline is stretched.”
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First Published: Thu, Apr 10 2008. 12 21 AM IST