Farm loan waiver just palliative, not solution: NITI Aayog

New Delhi: On Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s demand for loan waivers for farmers, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar on Wednesday said farm loan waivers are just a palliative and not a long-term solution for the farming community.

However, he said short-term measures might be required in some states that are facing real farm distress. The Centre does not take a pan-India view on the issue as it would not be fair for farmers in states where the loan exposure is very less.

“Farm loan waiver is not a solution. It’s just a palliative. This is a state government prerogative whether they want to give the farm loan waivers, as agriculture is a state subject,” Kumar said on the sidelines of release of NITI Aayog’s “New India – 2022” strategic document.

“The states have to look into their own fiscal resources and go ahead with what they want to do. In states, where there is a genuine and real farm distress, some short-term measures would have to be taken. This is in that nature, it’s not a long- term solution for the farmers’ problem or for agricultural modernisation,” he said.

On the employment data that the NITI Aayog has been working on, he said the actual data on employment would be out in “a fraction of a year” after the Central Statistics Office (CSO) completes its household survey for both rural and urban employments.

As for the liquidity concerns in the economy and the possibility of rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India, Kumar said the current inflation figures, which are well below the target of four per cent, itself call for a rate cut to support liquidity and growth in the economy.

Further, on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that 99 per cent items could soon see 18 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) or less, Kumar said: “About 97 per cent of the items are already at or below 18 per cent GST and as the taxbase widens and there is a revenue buoyancy, 99 per cent of items can come below 18 per cent tax, leaving only the non-merit items like cigarettes and alcohol in the above 18 per cent category.”

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