Chennai: With just three months to go for the state elections, Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa on Friday launched an interest-free micro-loan assistance scheme.

Under the Amma Small Traders Loan Assistance Scheme, sellers of flowers, fruits and vegetables, and other small vendors whose livelihood was affected by the December floods will get an interest-free loan of 5,000.

The objective of the scheme is to help out small traders who are forced to take loans at a high rate of interest from moneylenders, the state government said in a statement.

Cooperative banks will provide the interest-free loan for which the government will pay them an interest of 11%.

The borrowers will have to repay the loan over 25 weeks, paying back 200 a week.

Those who do not repay the loan in 25 weeks will be charged a nominal interest of 4% on the outstanding amount, said the statement.

Cooperative banks will hold 500 special camps for 10 days, in which the beneficiaries would be identified.

Earlier in the week, Jayalalithaa launched the Amma Call Centre to address public grievances round the clock.

Chief minister Jayalalithaa, the chief of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhgham, is fondly referred to as Amma.

Three years ago, she launched Amma canteens across cities in the state, where a meal is priced between 3 and 5. After that came Amma water at 10 a bottle and Amma salt at affordable prices.

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