Debt waiver scheme for farmers reflects Centre's failure: Minister

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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 29 (UNI) Kerala Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac today said the debt waiver scheme for farmers in the Union Budget presented today is a reflection of the failures of the Centre's agricultural policy.

''Union Minister P Chidambaram has admitted the failure of the Centre's agricultural policies, which it had been following for a decade, through the waiving of farmers' loans,'' he told reporters in reaction to the Budget.

''The 'debt waiver' is the biggest criticism of the decade old agricultural policies of the Centre,'' he said.

Stating that the Budget was one step forward and two steps back, Mr Issac said the decision to keep the revenue deficit at one per cent was welcome and it could help in development works. Where as there was no need for pegging the fiscal deficit at 2.5 per cent even though it could be three per cent according to the Fiscal Responsibility Act, he added.

The ceiling of 2.5 per cent fiscal deficit would lead to absolute decline in capital investment. ''Instead, Mr Chidambaram is trying to encourage foreign investments and the private sector,'' he alleged and added that the capital investment for this fiscal was Rs 1,20,787 crore and next year it was stated to be Rs 92,765 crore.

''This means reduction in capital investment, which was not necessary,'' he said.

Stating that the Budget was a great relief to the people when compared to the previous Budgets, he said the educational, health and the employment sectors were given prominence in the Budget.

UNI PN GKT RL ND1834

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