With New Maharashtra Offer, Farm Loan Write-Offs Touch Rs 4.7 Lakh Crore In Last 10 Years

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Various states have cumulatively written off a whopping Rs 4.7 lakh crore of farm loans in the past one decade, which is 82 percent of the industry-level bad loans, according to a report.In financial year ending 2019, farm loan NPAs jumped to 12.4 percent or at 1.1 lakh crore of the Rs 8,79,000 crore of total bad loans in the system, up from Rs 48,800 crore or 8.6 percent of the total NPAs of Rs 56,6,620 crore in financial year ending 2016, the report by SBI Research said.”Even though agriculture NPA was only Rs 1.1 lakh crore or 12.4 percent of the overall NPAs in FY19, if we accounted for Rs 3.14 lakh crore worth of farm loan waivers announced in the last decade, agri NPAs/burden for the exchequer/banks could be as much as staggering Rs 4.2 lakh crore and if the latest Rs 45,000-51,000 crore of write-offs announced by Maharashtra (second in three years) this it could be at Rs 4.7 lakh crore which is 82 percent of the industry level NPAs,” the report claimed.It can be noted that since financial year ending 2015, ten of the largest states announced farm loan waivers worth Rs 3,00,240 crore to alleviate the indebtedness of farmers and the spate of suicides. If the numbers announced by the Centre under Manmohan Singh regime in fiscal year 2007-08 is counted, this goes up to around Rs 4 lakh crore.Of this, over Rs 2 lakh crore have been made since 2017.In financial year 2015, ending Andhra announced to write off farm loans worth Rs 24,000 crore, in the same year Telengana too did so involving Rs 17,000 crore. FY17 saw Tamil Nadu announcing write-offs of Rs 5,280 crore.In financial year 2018, witnessed Maharashtra writing off Rs 34,020 crore; Uttar Pradesh (Rs 36,360 crore); Punjab (Rs 10,000); and Karnataka (Rs 18,000 crore), and another Rs 44,000 crore in fiscal year 2018-19. Same year, Rajasthan written off Rs 18,000 crore, Madhya Pradesh (Rs 36,500 crore), and Chhattisgarh (Rs 6,100 crore) and Maharashtra’s Rs 45,000-51,000 crore announced last month is the latest.But, it is entirely a different matter that most of these write-offs have been only in paper as actual write-offs have not been more than 60 percent, while the lowest delivery has 10 percent in Madhya Pradesh.Another interesting finding is that the years when farm loans were written off, there has been a massive fall in fresh farm loan intake. For instance in In financial year 2018, when Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab announced farm loan waivers, the annual growth in fresh loan disbursement was a whopping (minus) – 40 percent in Maharashtra, a paltry 1 percent in Karnataka and 3 percent in Punjab, the report noted.Over the years, kisan credit cards have became one of the most popular for agricultural loans, mainly because of the interest subvention scheme and the 5 percent incentive for prompt repayment incentive offered by the Centre (for up to Rs 3 lakh per borrower).At the end of March 2019, the KCC loans aggregated to about Rs 6,68,000 crore constituting about 60 percent of the total agricultural loans.Majority of our farmers are indebted because around 70 percent of the farm land is being cultivated by tenant farmers and not land-owning farmers, and hence is not entitled to getting any benefit, as being not the owner of the land.Also, barring Kerala, which has enacted the Money Lending Act, protecting borrowers from usurious rates of interest that incidentally protected tenants from excesses in private debt, no other state offers such legal safeguard to farmers.

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