18
November 2019 - 8:53 am IST

Nation

Kerala farm minister meets RBI guv over agri loan moratorium

Kerala farm minister meets RBI guv over agri loan moratorium

Published:10 July 2019

Kerala agriculture minister VS Sunil Kumar met Reserve Bank governor Shaktikanta Das Wednesday pressing to extend the moratorium on Rs 80,800-crore plus farm loans to end December and also to reschedule the borrowings through kisan credit cards.

Mumbai | Kerala agriculture minister VS Sunil Kumar met Reserve Bank governor Shaktikanta Das Wednesday pressing to extend the moratorium on Rs 80,800-crore plus farm loans to end December and also to reschedule the borrowings through kisan credit cards.
The meeting took place on a day when yet another farmer killed himself in the hilly district of Wayanad, which became a star constituency following Rahul Gandhi winning the Lok Sabha seat with record margins.
With this latest suicide of a 55-year-old farmer, as many as 18 debt-ridden farmers have ended their lives in the past as many months in the state, which has mostly marginal peasants who are into cash crops, after the banks began recovery process.
Close to 80 lakh farmers have got a moratorium on repayments till July 31, which was given after the state suffered the worst deluge in over a century last August, which wiped out over 11 percent of the state's farmland. While the loss to farmers from the deluge is pegged at Rs 18,545 crore, the overall damages are worth over Rs 35,000 crore.
The minister met the governor and deputy governor in- charge of banking supervision MK Jain at the Mint Road headquarters and submitted a memorandum with a list of 10 demands on behalf of the chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Kumar described the half-an-hour-plus meeting as "very fruitful and productive," and explained that the demand for moratorium arises from the fact the many farmers, hit by the deluge of last year, are yet to submit their claims.
"The governor and the deputy governor gave us a patient hearing and promised to direct the lead banker for the state (Canara Bank) to look into our demands and take appropriate action at the earliest," Kumar, who is a senior member of the ruling CPM, told PTI here.
According to him, the governor also said, the SLBC (state-level bankers committee) is empowered to take calls on demand for farm loan moratorium and reschedules and wondered why the Kerala SLBC has not acted upon the demand passed by the state Assembly a few months back.
The state also wants the RBI to direct the banks not to tag any farm loans as NPAs during the moratorium period and also waive the interest components during the operational period of the freeze.
The minister further said, the state cabinet will meet next week over the issue and fix a date for calling an SLBC meeting at the earliest.
The governor also accepted the state's demand to look into another round of rescheduling of the farm loans borrowed through kisan credit cards, the minister said and pointed out that this was needed as the state is set to face another drought this year with the monsoons so far been deficient by a whopping 47 percent to date.
The state wants the banks to accept the request for loan rescheduling extended up to September 30.
The minister informed RBI that if the monsoons do not revive in the coming months, this will be the fourth straight year of natural calamities that Kerala will be grappling with.
While the state faced a severe drought-with 69 percent deficient rainfalls--in 2016, the next year it was hit by the deadly cyclone Okhi and in 2018 the state suffered the worst deluge in over a century which killed 483 people and wrecked damages of around Rs 35,000 crore, of which Rs 18,545 crore were from farm sector alone as over 50,00 hectares of standing crops were wiped out, he said, adding "going by the poor rainfalls so far, we are headed for another drought as well." Another demand that the state made was doubling the collateral free loans through the kisan credit cards, from the present Rs 1.6 lakh to Rs 3.25 lakh, to which the governor said, the "issue needs wider discussions as it will have a national ramifications."
It can be noted that the central government, in the run-up to the last general elections, had in February increased the same from Rs 1-lakh to Rs 1.6-lakh.
The minister informed the RBI brass that the state t faces a peculiar problem of a non-farmers availing of farm loans through agri gold loans schemes for which the minister blamed the banks and NBFCs and requested the regulator to ensure that these loans are also covered under the moratorium and loan rescheduling.
The minister said Kerala has 76.28 lakh farm loan accounts with an outstanding of Rs 80,803 crore as of March 2019. This was Rs 69,347 crore in FY18 which grew from Rs 61,457 crore in FY17.
Of this, loans through kisan credit cards are only around 17 lakh accounts aggregating to Rs 17,530 crore as of March 2019, the minister said, adding this means that over 62 percent of farm loans of average ticket size of Rs 5 lakh are taken by people for non-agricultural purpose given against gold mortgages, but farming is their main source of income.
"Instead of lending through the proper channel, banks are pushing gold loans as agri-loans as this give them better margins," the minister said.
Of outstanding loans, SLBC reported around Rs 4,000 crore in NPAs which is only around 2.7 percent and had rescheduled around Rs 5,000 crore so far.


Links

Sign up for Newsletter



Tags

Download Apps

Google Play App Store
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  •  

© Copyright Metro vaartha 2018 All rights reserved. designed by : Tedsys

top