Guwahati: To bring 27 lakh agricultural families into the formal institutional credit system, the Assam Cabinet has approved three schemes worth Rs 1,000 crore.
Announcing the schemes in Guwahati, state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sharma said that once the schemes are implemented, “farm loans in the state will be interest free”.
The three schemes, which Sarma proposed in his last year’s budget proposal -- Assam Farmers' Credit Subsidy Scheme (AFCSS) 2018, Assam Farmers' interest Relief Scheme (AFIRS) 2018, and Assam Farmers' Incentives Scheme (AFIS) 2018 -- are expected to launch in January next year.
The AFCSS, which is seen as experimental for a year, will provide financial assistance to farmers who can avail loan up to Rs 2 lakh during the period of April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. As per the scheme, the government will deposit 25% of the amount of the total loan for all active loans. However, the government has capped the maximum benefit to Rs 25,000. The scheme will cover around 4 lakh farmers and the total expenditure for the scheme, the government has estimated, will come around Rs 500 crore. “Though the scheme is for one year, it may become permanent if we find it successful,” said Sarma.
Announcing the AFIRS scheme, the minister said that the farmers availing interest incentives for loan taken retrospectively from April 1, 2018 and will not require to pay any interest for loans up to Rs 2 lakh. The interest for farm loans is 7% where, the farmers have to pay 4% and the Central government pays 3%. However, under the scheme, Assam government will pay the 4% of farmers’ share. According to the government statement, the scheme will cover around 11 lakh farmers and it will cost around Rs 200 crore.
The Assam government also approved the AFIS scheme under which a one-time cash incentive of “up to Rs 10,000 for activating the KCC accounts”. The scheme will cover around 3 lakh farmers at a cost of around Rs 300 crore. The minister said that around out of the 27 lakh agricultural families around 8 lakh families were never availed KCC accounts.
Apart from the loan and interest incentives, Sarma also said that the state government will deposit Rs 2,500 to the people from tea communities who opened their accounts following demonetisation. He further said those who opened accounts after the first phase of incentive was given, they will receive Rs 5,000. Around 7,21,485 accounts were opened in tea gardens in Assam. During the first phase, the scheme costs the state government Rs 182 crore, however, the amount would rise to around Rs 200 crore.
The schemes were announced to commemorate the 125th anniversary of farmers uprising in Patharughat in 1894 where 180 farmers died.