The PMO is closely working on the scheme and monitoring its progress.
New Delhi: The government is all set to announce a big relief package for farmers by boosting its crop insurance scheme.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which is closely working on the scheme and monitoring its progress, is also discussing a set of proposals with Agriculture Ministry and Niti Aayog officials to help farmers cope with their debt burden. The decision, obviously, has political connotations and the Opposition has blamed the government for pushing the scheme keeping in mind the 2019 general elections. But their criticism has not deterred the government.
Top BJP leaders like Amit Shah, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad have held closed-door, late night meetings this week, triggering speculations that a relief package for farmers is on the cards.
The entire exercise could cost the Central Exchequer a whopping Rs 1.3 lac crores, the Finance Ministry is exploring the option of sharing the burden with the states by also trying to rope in Congress-ruled states.
The government - reeling under the impact of defeats in three states (MP, Rajasthan & Chattisgarh) - is brainstorming over the feasibility of a nationwide scheme on the lines of Rhythu Bandhu of Telengana. The scheme would involve paying farmers a sum per acre of land. PMO is also mulling the pros and cons of a scheme akin to Bhavantar Bhuktan Yojana of Madhya Pradesh, which will involve paying farmers the price difference between market price and minimum support price.
The government, however, has ruled out the possibility of a pan-India loan waiver, which tends to disrupt the credit cycle of banks. The government will also have to ensure there are no fiscal slippages while rolling out a relief package. Critics have time and again reminded the government that the fiscal deficit touched 114.8% of the full-year estimate at the end of November, 2019. The Centre's fiscal deficit target for FY19 is 3.3% of GDP.
The government's freshly buttressed price support scheme for farm produce gained little traction in a year, where the tone of distress was set by the Mandsaur agitation in Madhya Pradesh in 2017. In between March to July, the country has seen protests across the country from Nashik to the national capital.