The Centre is planning to transfer a fixed amount of money into the accounts of debt-ridden farmers every month, a move that could cost the exchequer up to Rs 1 lakh crore a year.
An announcement to this effect will be made soon by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, informed sources told DH on Thursday.
There has been a layer of meetings between the officials of the Prime Minister’s Office, agriculture ministry, finance ministry and the Niti Aayog since Wednesday where various alternatives were discussed for relief to farmers weighed down by heavy debts.
The officials have given a presentation to the prime minister on alternatives such as redesigning the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme, giving more compensation to farmers and waiving loans of up to Rs 1 lakh. They have also discussed the cost involved to the exchequer on various schemes to be announced within a week, an official privy to the development said.
Something similar to the flagship scheme of Madhya Pradesh government — Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana (price difference payment scheme) — under which the government pays farmers the difference between the official Minimum Support Price (MSP) and the rate at which they sell crops, is also under consideration.
An investment support scheme for farmers on the lines of Telangana government and its cost implications were also discussed. However, the Centre is yet to zero in on a scheme for farmers and the manner in which it should be done so that it does not become a handle for Opposition parties to take on the government in the run-up to elections.
A discussion on Universal Basic Income (UBI) was also held, but the government was not too sure whether such a scheme — where all subsidies are withdrawn or merged with a fixed income that the state puts in every citizen’s account — would be acceptable to masses.