Chandigarh, Mar 3 (UNI) Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu today described the farm loan waiver scheme in the Union Budget as a ''cosmetic exercise'' and said the actual agrarian issues had not been addressed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
''The announcement by Mr Chidambaram is akin to a lollipop wrapped in paper,'' he told mediapersons here. ''Cancer cannot be cured with a Seredon tablet, it has to be operated upon,'' Mr Sidhu quipped while claiming that the actual issues confronting the farming community had not been taken care off.
The Finance Minister should have announced lowering of the rate of interest on institutionalised loans to four per cent, he said. No compound interest should be charged on farm loans, he added while pointing out that simple rate of interest should be charged.
''I have told Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to adopt the Damdupat scheme which is prevalent in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh'', he said while pointing out that under this scheme compounding of the interest rate is done away with.
Turning to Punjab, Mr Sidhu said the benefit to the states farmers would be around Rs 1000 crore which was a small amount to the total waiver of Rs 60,000 crore.''There are large number of farmers who have availed on non institutionalised loans and the Union Budget has failed to address this issue, he claimed.
The Sir Chotu Ram Debt Act of 1938 should be set in motion to take care of the non-institutionalised loans from money lenders and commission agents, he suggested. The Punab farmer definitely deserved a better deal from the Finance Minister, he said while pointing to the contributions made by the farmers to the central food pool.
Mr Sidhu said that he would discuss the loan waiver scheme with senior leader L K Advani and would also highlight all related issues at the NDA meeting.
UNI HS BJR AS1900