Agro bonanza: 4 crore farmers to benefit from loan waiver

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New Delhi, Feb 29 (UNI) In a bonanza for the agricultural sector, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today announced a Debt Waiver and Debt Relief scheme which will cost Rs 60,000 crores to the exchequer and benefit some 4 crore farmers, including 3 crore small and marginal farmers.

All agricultural loans distributed by scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks and cooperative credit institutions upto March 31, 2007 and overdue as on December 31, 2007 will be covered under Debt Waiver and Debt Relief scheme.

For marginal farmers and small farmers there will be a complete waiver of all loans that were overdue on December 31, 2007 and which remained unpaid until February 29, 2008. In respect of other farmers, there will be a One Time Settlement (OTS) scheme for all loans that were overdue for the above period. Under the OTS, a rebate of 25 per cent willl be give against payment of the balance of 75 per cent.

Agriculutural loans which were rescheduled and are restructured during 2004-06 as per the RBI guidelines will also be eligible for a waiver or an OTS on the same pattern.

The implementation of the Debt Waiver and Debt Relief scheme will be completed by June 30, 2008. Upon being granted debt waiver or signing an agreement for debt relief under the OTS, the farmer would be entitled to fresh agricultural loans from the banks.

Three crore small and marginal farmers and one crore other farmers will benefit from the scheme. The total value of overdue loans being waived is estimated at Rs 50,000 crores and the OTS relief on the overdue loans is estimated at Rs 10,000 crores UNI RP DS1552

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