The Finance Ministry has launched a concessional loan scheme for farmers to prevent distress sale of agricultural produce. Farmers who park their produce at warehouses will be able to avail short-term post harvest loan at 7% as against the prevailing rate of 11%-12%. Farmers making timely payment of the loans will further enjoy 3% interest subvention, bringing the real interest rate to 4%, according to the finance ministry directive. This will benefit close to 100 million marginal and small farmers with kisan credit cards. "Now, a farmer will be able to get two crop loans in a year at a concessional rate," said a senior official with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), which will implement the scheme.
Qatar has proposed preparing a unified format of employment contract for foreign domestic helps across the six Gulf nations, that heavily import workers from foreign countries like India. The proposal was among the six major recommendations Qatar made at a recent meeting in Manama of the undersecretaries from the ministries of labour of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, a local media report said.
The finance ministry will treat a bank representative offering basic services invillages using a Net-enabled laptop as a branch, widening the reach of the government's financial inclusion plan and doing away with the need to spend on infrastructure. The ministry directive comes at a time when banks have raised questions about the viability of setting up brick-and-mortar branches in rural areas. At present, only about 5% of India's 6 lakh villages have bank branches.
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a US$130 million credit to finance the Government of India’s (GOI) efforts to empower rural communities in the growth-deficient North East (NE) region to improve their livelihood opportunities. The North East Rural Livelihoods Project (NERLP) seeks to support the rural poor, especially women, unemployed youth and the severely disadvantaged, in four North Eastern states to improve their standard of living by establishing sustainable community institutions and enhancing their livelihoods.
Rural Development Minister, Jairam Ramesh has appealed to the Prime Minister to create a new, separate category for MGNREGA under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. This comes in the midst of an on-going debate arguing for the wages under MGNREGA be brought at par with minimum wages in the states, following a judgment made by the Karnataka High Court to this effect. The Centre had decided to move a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the judgment. However, Mr. Ramesh opined that creating a category for the rural employment scheme and a mechanism for determining wage rates under the scheme would resolve the issue.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms. Jayalalithaa has expressed “strong opposition” to the draft Food Security Bill, 2011. She also urged the Centre to exempt Tamil Nadu from plying with the Bill saying that it is confusing and inaccurate. The Chief Minister took exception to the proposed segregation of target households into priority households (PHH) and general households (GHH) calling it unscientific. Similarly, the Bill also does not clearly explain the basis on which the coverage of Targeted Public Distribution Scheme has been reduced to 75 % of rural BPL and 50% of urban BPL households.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar revealed that the State was in talks about utilising the labour under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for agriculture, to bridge the shortage of supply of farm labour.
Nearly half the farmer households in India, with a high percentage of them in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab are facing the burden of loans. A total of 43.42 million farmer households constituting 48.6 per cent are reported to be indebted to either formal or informal or both sources of credit, as per the report on the "Indebtedness of Farmer Households". (NSSO report 498 of NSS 59th Round).
More than 6.9 lakh families in the country have been provided the mandatory 100 days of employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) so far this financial year. As per official data, Andhra Pradesh topped the list by providing 100 days of employment to 2.83 lakh households this financial year.