Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy today announced Rs 34,000 crore crop loan waiver scheme while presenting the first state budget of his his coalition government. He also earmarked Rs 6500 crore for new farm loans in 2018-19 budget.
Before presenting the assembly's budget session began this morning, the chief minister hinted that the first financial bill will be people-oriented. "It is a new experience for me as a finance minister. I have taken up this as a challenge to give a surplus budget," the CM told media.
In the run-up to the recent assembly polls in the state, the Kumaraswamy-led JD(S) had promised to waive farm loans borrowed both from cooperative and nationalised banks within 24 hours of coming to power.
Kumaraswamy, who also holds the finance portfolio, had earlier cited coalition compulsions and the need for studying the financial condition of the state as the reason for the delay in the announcement of loan waiver.
Here are the LIVE Updates:
12:35 pm: Considering the popularity of Indira Canteens in Bengaluru, action has been taken to open 247 Indira Canteens in all taluks and district head quarters of the state at an expenditure of Rs 211 crores: Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy while presenting budget 2018-19 in Vidhana Soudha
12:13 pm: Kumaraswamy proposes to hike electricity rate by 20 paise per unit
12:10 pm: HD Kumaraswamy proposes to hike full cess on petrol and diesel in the budget. Petrol price hiked by 1.14/ltr & diesel price hiked by Rs 1.12/ltr.
12:05 pm: To facilitate farmers to avail new loans, action will be taken by the govt to issue clearance certificate by waiving the arrears form the defaulting account. For this purpose, Rs 6500 crore is earmarked in 2018-19 budget: Kumaraswamy. Total farm loan in Karnataka stands at 53 thousand crores
12:01 pm: I have decided to limit the loan amount to Rs 2 lakhs. Due to this crop loan waiver scheme, farmers will get the benefit of Rs 34,000 crore: HD Kumaraswamy while presenting the budget in Vidhana Soudha
11:55 am: I have decided to waive all defaulted crop loans of farmers up to 31 Dec 2017 in the first stage. Farmers who repaid the loan within time,as an encouragement to the non defaulting farmers, I have decided to credit the repaid loan amount or Rs 25000 whichever is less: Karnataka CM
11:50 am: To facilitate the farmers to avail new loans action will be taken by the govt to issue clearance certificate by waiving the arrears form the defaulting account. For this purpose, Rs 6500 crore is earmarked in 2018-19 budget: Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy while presenting the budget
1:45 am: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy presents the government's first budget at Vidhana Soudha
10:55 am: It is a new experience for me as a finance minister. I have taken up this as a challenge to give a surplus budget: Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy before presenting the government's first budget
It will also be interesting to see how Kumaraswamy,who has in the past claimed that he is not an expert on the economy, will strike a balance between loan waiver, flagship schemes of the previous government, new schemes or programmes if any, as also infrastructure needs of the state.
The Congress-JD(S) coordination committee constituted to oversee the smooth functioning of the government had on Sunday approved the Common Minimum Programme, which includes waiver of farm loans, creation of one crore jobs and allocation of Rs 1.25 lakh crore for irrigation over the next five years.
It also included construction of 20 lakh houses for homeless families in the state in the next five years, along with implementation of a universal health policy, 'Arogya Karnataka' of the previous government, among others.
The budget also comes amid coalition worries and debate over whether there was a need for a full-fledged fresh budget as the government would continue almost all the flagship schemes of the previous government.
Former Chief Minister and Coordination committee chief Siddaramaiah, who held the finance portfolio in the previous government, had recently said there was no need for a fresh budget and insisted that a supplementary budget would do.
Adding to the coalition's discomfort is the controversy over videos that purportedly showed coordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah's remarks, questioning the need for a fresh budget and expressing scepticism over longevity of the government.
On the other hand, the opposition BJP has demanded that Kumaraswamy come out with a "white paper" on the state's financial position before presenting the budget.
Leader of the opposition in the Assembly B S Yeddyurappa has warned that if the government fails to keep up its promises on loan waiver, BJP and all its 104 MLAs would go to the people with the Congress and JD(S) manifestos to inform them that the parties have not 'walked the talk.'
In what is being seen as an effort by Congress to claim its share of credit for the farm loan waiver, keeping in mind the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, party President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday expressed confidence about the Congress-JDS coalition government acting on its commitment to waive farmer loans and to make farming more profitable.
"On the eve of the Karnataka Budget, I'm confident our Congress-JDS coalition Govt will act on our commitment to waive farmer loans & to make farming more profitable," he said in a tweet.
"This budget is an opportunity for our Govt. to make Karnataka a beacon of hope for farmers all across India," he said.
(With agency inputs)