Farmers' loan waiver continues to dominate budget dabate

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New Delhi, Mar 13 (UNI) Loan waiver for farmers continued to dominate the debate on the General Budget 2008-09 in the Lok Sabha for the second day today as members, while appreciating the step, called for the need to look deeper into the problems of the farmers driving them into debt trap.

Participating in the resumed discussion, Mr P Karunakaran (CPM), while welcoming the belated relief for the farmers, agreed with Mr Rahul Gandhi(Cong) that there should be no cut-off date for the loan waiver.

While demanding that the loan waiver scheme should also bring in its domain the farmers who had taken loans from the money lenders, he called for a comprehensive policy for farmers separately instead of clubbing the community with the Agriculture Policy.

Besides, he sought loan waiver schemes for fishermen and weavers who also often fell prey to the debt web and their condition was no different from farmers.

Mr Karunakaran also decried the unbridled price rise, saying that although the government had succeeded to check inflation, it had not got translated down the ladder.

He urged the Government not to discriminate Kerala for having better education and health facilities, demanding IITs, IIMs and Medical colleges for the state.

Mr Ramji Lal Suman (Samajwadi Party) drew the attention of the government to the fact that loan waiver would only benefit 27 per cent of the farmers as majority of them had taken loans from the money lenders. Besides, he demanded that the government should waive off loans of all farmers up to Rs 50,000 without the cut-off date of March 31, 2007.

He also sought lowering of interest rates on loans to farmers and more allocations for the irrigation sector. He demanded special relief for farmers in Bundelkhand which had been reeling under successive droughts for the past three years.

He cautioned the government of pursuing a capitalist economy which was leading to more unemployment.

Mr A Krishnaswamy(DMK) urged the Finance Minister to provide more allocations for upgrading education infrastructure in rural areas, where schools did not have proper buildings, toilets and potable drinking water.

He also urged for expediting the Fifth Pay Commission Report.

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