Prime Minister Narendra Modi government should implement a minimum income guarantee scheme to boost rural consumption, on the lines of what his party had promised before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, and a national farm loan waiver to tackle rural distress, the Congress said on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference as part of the Congresss special series on the Union Budget, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan asked the union government to spell out its measures to double farm incomes by 2022.
Mr. Chavan demanded reduction in Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates on agriculture inputs to less than 5% and said the government should announce measures like universal basic income to put more money in the hands of farmers and the poor so that their consumption increases.
The party demanded that petrol and diesel be brought under the GST regime. He said the Centre had earned over 13.5 lakh crore by way of taxes on petroleum products in the past five years.
We demand that the government should put more money in the hands of 95% of the poor who live in rural areas and help improve consumption through schemes like MNREGA. The government should also bring a universal basic income scheme to ensure that there is direct benefit to people and money should go into their accounts directly to help improve consumption levels, Mr. Chavan said.
The Congress leader also raised serious questions about the Centres procurement policy, minimum support price, functioning of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and the crop insurance scheme. I want to give some figures. In 2019-20, the total amount disbursed as compensation to Kharif crops is 153 crore, while the premium collected by the insurance companies is to the tune of 25,853 crore, he said.
Mr. Chavan said that for the farmers income to double by 2022, the agriculture sector would have to see a compound growth rate of at least 12% annually, while it was only growing at 2.9%.
How will Indias dream of becoming a $5 trillion economy be accomplished, Mr. Chavan asked and asserted that Indias official data had now come under the global scanner for its credibility. There is a lot of jugglery of figures going on and, therefore, the credibility of India is being questioned, he alleged.
Mr. Chavan also said the Centre was in default when it came to paying the States share of taxes and claimed that the union government owes 15,000 crore to Maharashtra alone.
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