New Delhi [India], Jan 30 (ANI): The Congress on Wednesday accused the BJP-led government of “betraying” farmers and “breaching its poll promises” and demanded a loan waiver scheme, minimum income scheme and bringing petrol and diesel under the GST.
In a statement, party leader and former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the GST rates on farm produce and the products should be reduced and GST on tractors, agriculture implements and insecticides should be withdrawn or brought to the minimum level. He said the interest of farmers should be protected under the crop insurance scheme.
Alleging scams related to the crop insurance scheme, he demanded a high-level inquiry into the issue. Chavan said the government should come out with a loan waiver scheme on the lines of the scheme brought by the UPA government in 2008.
“The consumption level has been declining in the villages and the farmers are in a pitiable condition. In such a scenario national loan waiver scheme and minimum income scheme is the need of the hour. Allocation under MGNREGA should be increased. Diesel and petrol should be brought under the ambit of GST,” he said.
Chavan accused the BJP-led government of changing the goalposts in the past five-and-a-half years.
“In 2014, the BJP came to power with the promise of giving 50 per cent profit on the cost of farm produce to the farmers but so far the Indian farmers have been left at the mercy of their fate and the government has been only trying to mislead them with false ‘jumlas,” he said.
Chavan said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman should speak on the past poll promises of the BJP in her budget speech.
“In all the budgets of BJP till to date the farmers have suffered deception of mirage and numerous promises were made to mislead them. In the Budget 2020 we hope and request the Union Minister of Finance that the farmer, who is the ‘anndata’ of this country, should not be betrayed any more,” he said.
He said that in the Budget of 2018-19, an Agri-market Infrastructure Fund was announced with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore but in two years the government has reportedly so far spent only 0.5 per cent of this amount.
“Twenty-two thousand markets were proposed to be set up but out of that work started for only 376 but even those markets have not been made fully operational,” Chavan said.
He said the Finance Minister had promised a substantial investment in agriculture and allied fields.
“A scheme was announced to constitute 10,000 new farmer producer organizations and fisheries industries. We would request the Minister of Finance to kindly enlighten us about the fate of those announcements in her budget speech,” he said.
Chavan alleged that the farmers were not getting the declared minimum support price. “The farmers were forced to sell their Kharif crops at 8 per cent to 37 per cent below the MSP,” he said.
The Congress leader said the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) has also recommended a cut in the government procurement of wheat and paddy in 2020-21 rabi marketing season report.
“It raises a suspicion that the BJP Government intends to stop the purchase of wheat and paddy. The BJP government has virtually stopped releasing food subsidy amount to the FCI during the past five years,” he said.
Chavan said Rs 1.74 lakh crore payable to FCI by the BJP Government was still outstanding and debt burden of the corporation has increased to Rs 2.65 lakh crore during the past five years.
“Major amount of this debt has been taken at a hefty rate of interest of 8 per cent or more. The ultimate result is that FCI is neck-deep in debt. On one hand, the government is not releasing the food subsidy amount, and, on the other hand, the FCI has no option but to repay the debt taken on a high rate of interest. If FCI is shut down then who will come forward for procurement of farmers’ crops?” he asked.
He said the BJP-led government is the first to impose taxes on agriculture by putting GST on fertilisers (5 per cent), tractor and agriculture equipment (12 per cent) and pesticides (18 per cent).