Micro loan waiver in Assam turns into political slugfest as opposition demands white paper

Micro loan waiver in Assam has turned into a political slugfest between the BJP led government and opposition Congress. Congress has demanded Government must immediately release a white paper on the total number of women debtors, how many women will be able to avail the loan waive as per the different categories and guidelines subscribed by the Government.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) said that chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma that his speech in election rallies on micro-finance loan waiver for all women was a ‘political statement’ and not a ‘government statement ‘ is highly condemnable. APCC takes strong exception to such remarks made by Chief Minister of a state. The CM cannot make light of his electoral promise by saying it was a ‘political statement ‘. It is a grievous matter of breach of trust.

Congress added, Sarma had not only made the loan waiver an attractive electoral promise but even after taking charge as Chief Minister had also announced in the Assembly that he will see to it that all loans are waived, that their promises to the ‘innocent women’ will be followed word by word. Hence how did the promise now become a ‘political statement ‘?

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee demands that the Government immediately release a white paper on the total number of women debtors, how many women will be able to avail the loan waive as per the different categories and guidelines subscribed by the Government and how many women will not be able to avail of the loan waive as per their guidelines.

Sarma on Friday said that micro loan waiver will revolve from incentive to relief and impact as many as 22 lakh women.

Sarma on Friday said that after talks with MFIs and banks the size of micro loan outstanding is pruned to Rs 8250 Crore from Rs 12,500 Crore. “We have been able to do this as those loans which are not in accordance with RBI norms will be wiped out by the lender.”

The chief minister said, “I have promised to provide succour to poor women who are not able to return the loan amount. However, we have evolved a mechanism whereby we will provide on time assistance of Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 to those women who are making regular payments against loan.”

He added, “There are a section of women who were paying regularly their instalments however in anticipation that the government will waive loans and stop payment in the last one months, to those people we will provide assistance.”

The chief minister said that there is a section who want complete waiver. “We can do this however they will not be able to get any loan in future for their cibil scores will be affected.”

The chief minister said that there was a loan of roughly Rs 600 Crore where interest rates were charged over 2.5 percent and this loan amount was wiped out. “As per our estimate the state government will have to spend close to Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 Crore for the assistance and relief in the loan waiver. Within two weeks the whole thing will be finalised.”

He added, “We are clear that credit culture must not be affected. Even in case of loan waiver we will bring in population norms exceptions will be made for Scheduled caste/schedule tribe and tea tribes.”

The chief minister added, “This is an announcement that population policy will be implemented and two child norms will be mandatory in availing government schemes. In the case of micro finance waiver initially we may allow five to six children norms however we will gradually bring them down to two children.”

Chairman of micro finance waiver committee Ashok Singhal recently said waiver will exclude income tax payee, persons availing multiple loans, person having four wheelers and a person whose annual income is more than one lakh.

Singhal said, “The loan waiver will come with capping; it will not be a blanket waiver.”

The state’s committee on microfinance loan waiver, formed after Himanta Biswa Sarma sworn in as chief minister, is holding meetings with lenders.

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