THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government’s failure to issue an order extending the moratorium on all loans taken by the farmers till December 31 before the model code of conduct came into force has put the ruling party in a spot. The government, however, on Tuesday clarified that the moratorium on repayment of agricultural, dairy and education loans availed by flood victims was valid till October, 11.
Chief Secretary Tom Jose has issued a press note clarifying the moratorium on loans was already in force till October 2019, and the Cabinet decision on 3 March 2019, extending it for two more months was placed for the consideration of the State-level bankers committee by the Chief Minister on 16 March after the Agriculture Department issued an order to this effect.
Since the public sector banks were the final authorities to take a call on this matter based on the recommendation, the State government has effectively placed the issue for the consideration of public sector banks, he said in the press note. Though his version is correct, the Cabinet decision on March also announced a slew of debt relief measures in the face of back-to-back farmers’ suicides.
Prominent among them was the moratorium on agri-loans taken from the public sector, commercial and cooperative banks being extended till December 31, 2019. Currently, loans taken from cooperative banks get benefits from the Debt Relief Commission, while the new decision included the public sector banks also under the purview of the scheme. Further, the Cabinet has decided to revise the previous condition of providing debt relief for agri-loans taken till March 31, 2014, in Wayanad and relief for loans taken till October 31, 2011, in other districts.
As per the new decision, the Cabinet directed the Debt Relief Commission to extend debt relief to farmers from Idukki and Wayanad for loans taken till August 31, 2018. Farmers in other districts will get debt relief for loans taken till March 31, 2014. The upper limit for debt relief for loans has also been increased from `1 lakh to 2 lakh. Currently, the Debt Relief Commission provides 50 pc of repayment amount for arrears above 50,000 and up to `1 lakh. So the failure to pass an order based on the Cabinet decision before the model code of conduct came into force will affect the beneficiaries as they have to wait till the elections are over to avail the benefits announced by the Cabinet.