Punjab govt sets up expert group on farm debt waiver

Chandigarh: In a significant step towards realizing its promise to waive off all
farm debts in the state, the Captain Amarinder Singh government has
set up an Expert Group to assess the quantum of agricultural debt, and
suggests ways and means for its waiver.

Dr. T. Haque, Former Chairman, Commission for Agricultural Costs and
Prices, has been appointed Chairman of the Group, which has been
tasked with submitting its report within 60 days.

The two other members of the Group are Dr. Pramod Kumar Joshi,
Director – South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute,
South Asia Regional Office;  and Dr. B.S. Dhillon, Vice Chancellor,
PAU, Ludhiana.

An official notification issued by Additional Chief Secretary
(Development) said the Group would be assisted by the officers of the
State Government, including Additional Chief Secretary-cum-Financial
Commissioner (Development) and Principal Secretary Finance.

Dr. Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Commissioner and Director Agriculture,
Punjab, shall assist the Group as Convener.  He shall convene the
meetings of the Group, which may associate officers from the banking
sector, including Chief General Manager, NABARD, Chandigarh and
Convener State Level Bankers’ Committee, Punjab, Chandigarh.

Besides assessing the total amount of credit including institutional
and non-institutional credit availed by different categories of
farmers, the Group will assess the quantum of bad loans or debt and
suggest the methodology for remission of debt. It will also suggest
ways and means to raise resources for the debt waiver, according to
the notification.

The Expert Group may co-opt any other member, if so required, to
achieve its objectives, in order to facilitate the state government’s
efforts to ameliorate the sufferings of the farmers.

The Punjab Mandi Board shall provide both secretariat assistance and
financial support including payment of allowance to the non-official
members for effective and proper functioning of the Group, as per the