Under pressure to announce a farm loan waiver, the Maharashtra government is looking at ways to boost agricultural output, help cultivators come out of debt trap and transfer subsidy directly in their bank accounts. Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar today said the government is looking at options like increasing agricultural production, freeing farmers from debt trap and moving subsidy in their accounts under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme as part of its efforts to alleviate farm distress. To improve agricultural productivity, he said the government is mulling steps like completing pending irrigation projects, constructing cement bunds and providing more power connections for agricultural pump sets. "Setting up agricultural produce processing units, marketing farm produce and giving soil health cards to farmers are some of the other steps that will help in improving the condition of cultivators," the minister said. On the budget to be presented on March 18, Mungantiwar said with the GST expected to come into effect from July, the state has to plan for taxes for barely three months. "(In the budget) the government intends to improve the agricultural sector infrastructure and provide relief to the common man," he told reporters here. Mungantiwar said post-GST implementation, the state will focus on increasing its non-tax revenue income. "The government intends to increase non-tax income by mopping up revenue on lotteries, raising money from fine on traffic violations and improving collection from lands given on lease.
The revenue from stamp duty registration which had seen a dip after demonetisation has now stabilised," he said. About the opposition's demand for agri debt waiver, he said most of the loans have been taken from district central co-operative banks and agricultural credit cooperatives which are controlled by the Congress and the NCP. "The real reason behind the demand was to make these banks and credit cooperatives clear their dues," he said. Referring to the DBT, he said, "the Centre had saved Rs 37,000 crore after it began giving subsidies through the scheme. If the state adopts the scheme, it can save Rs 4,500 crore.
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