The Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition in Maharashtra has decided to approach the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) seeking a special concession for farmers in the state.
With the lockdown and the economic damage caused by it stalling the ambitious plan to write off crop loans of several lakh farmers, the government on Monday decided to write to the regulatory bank, urging it to direct banks to postpone recovery of farm loan arrears for 2019-20 by a year.
Earlier this year, the state had rolled out its flagship scheme – writing off arrears up to Rs 2 lakh for loans availed between April 2015 and March 2019. While 29.73 lakh farmers were identified as beneficiaries, a government statement, released on Monday, said that 11.59 lakh of them — roughly 38 per cent — were yet to receive the benefit owing to the lockdown. The total amount due to be released to them works out to Rs 9,866 crore.
At a Cabinet meeting Monday, a decision to approach the RBI was taken in this context. “To ensure that farmers receive fresh credit for sowing these kharif and rabi seasons, we will ask RBI for a one-year moratorium on loan payments,” an official said.
In another decision, the state on Monday decided to dive into the contingency fund to compensate milk producers who have suffered heavy losses during the lockdown. With hotels, sweet shops, and restaurants still shut, the government has claimed that consumption of milk has dipped by 17 lakh litres. The state has now decided to buy four crore litre milk from such producers over the next two months, and convert it into milk powder and butter, which will be sold in the open market. The initiative will cost the state exchequer Rs 127 crore.
Another decision for amending the Act to allow GST dealers extended time for making payments and adhering to various tax compliance deadlines was also taken. To enable this, the state has invoked the force majeure clause replicating a similar move by the Centre.
A decision for similar amendments in rules and regulations governing the functioning of cooperative housing societies was also taken to ensure that get added time for meeting various statutory requirements.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet also to credit three months advance allowances under various social welfare schemes to help poor, pensioners, widows and divyangs. For this purpose, Rs 1273.25 crore was allocated.