The government on Friday announced assured income support for farmers with small landholdings through a scheme that will cost Rs 75,000 crore in the next fiscal year.
Farmers with land up to two hectares will get Rs 6,000 per year in their bank accounts in three equal instalments, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said while presenting the interim budget in Parliament. Beneficiaries will get the amount from December 1, 2018, retrospectively.
The scheme will be called Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (literally “prime minister’s fund to honour farmers”), with the acronym “PM-KISAN”. It is likely to benefit 12 crore small and marginal farmers, Goyal said.
The scheme will “not only provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families, but would also meet their emergent needs especially before the harvest season”, Goyal said.
Since the scheme will be effective in the last quarter of 2018-’19, the government allocated Rs 20,000 crore as revised estimates in the current year’s budget. Goyal used the allocation to explain the government’s inability to keep fiscal deficit in check.
“If we exclude this [Rs 20,000 crore in 2018-’19 and Rs 75,000 crore in 2019-’20], the fiscal deficit would have been less than 3.3% [of Gross Domestic Product] for 2018-’19 and less than 3.1% for year 2019-’20,” Goyal said.
Even while Goyal’s Budget speech was going on, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweeted: “After brutalising the farmers for five years, a cosmetic support of just Rs 75,000 crore allocation for farmers. This is peanuts.”
The scheme is similar to an initiative launched in May 2018 by the Telangana government, which pays Rs 8,000 per acre to farmers in two instalments per crop season.
Goyal also announced interest subvention of 2% for farmers affected by natural calamities for the entire period of repayment of crop loans. Earlier, they got the subvention only for the first year of the rescheduled loan. Farmers who pay interests on time will get a further incentive of 3% interest subvention.