Govt plans edu loan waiver for SC, ST students
Bengluru: Its ambitious crop loan waiver plan may be stuck somewhere in bank files on financing for harvesters and fertilizers, but the H D Kumaraswamy government is already working on another populist scheme: to write off education loans taken by dalit students.
The social welfare department shot off a missive to the district welfare officers last week, asking them to collect details of outstanding education loans from banks in their jurisdiction. This includes the students’ names, their courses, data on the loans they’ve obtained and the amounts due.
The scheme is meant to rescue Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students caught in debt traps, with no way to repay education loans bloated with dues from compound interest.
“The scheme is in a preliminary stage… We are still ideating,” social welfare minister Priyank Kharge said. “The initial action we have embarked on is based on requests coming across sections. We will plan our course of action on data sent by district welfare officers.”
Scheduled banks disbursed Rs 1,08,460 crore in education loans in 2017-18, a huge jump from Rs 82,800 crore the previous year, official records show. State officials are in the process of ascertaining loans taken by dalit students and the dues on these loans.
“We will convene a bankers’ meeting at the district level and complete the data collection in a month or so,” a district welfare officer said.
Funds for the education loan waivers for dalit students should not present a problem, given that the government earmarked 24% of the total estimated expenditure of Rs 2,18,488 crore in its 2018-19 budget for the SC and ST sub plan (under the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan and Tribal Sub Plan Act, 2013). The social welfare department has a separate allocation of Rs 11,788 crore for the fiscal.
“Resources are not a problem, but the question is how effectively you can utilise them,” Kharge said. Officials from the finance department agree that the social welfare department is flush with funds.
The government bears the cost of education for government quota seats, but management quota students depend upon bank loans. The government says the loan waiver will benefit lakhs of students, especially those pursuing technical and medical courses.
Farm loan write-off stuck at data hurdle
The state’s scheme to write off farm loans from banks is still stuck in the first stage of data compilation.
“Banks have been asked to send data on pending loans on or before Wednesday [October 10],” State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) convener K S Karunakar said. “The process will gather momentum after the government uploads this data on its portal.”
Not a single bank branch had furnished the data till Monday but SLBC officials exuded hope that they would comply with the deadline.
It might have tied itself in knots with its crop loan waiver scheme — in the early stages of gathering bank data on loan dues, no less — but that has not stopped the government from showing uncommon haste in embarking on another populist scheme ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The government may not face any problem in funding the scheme, as the minister points out, but on evidence of the crop loan write-off, there is every likelihood that it could in its implementation. Lip service will do the purported beneficiaries little good; if the government is serious about the plan, it should set a deadline for its execution.
Source: TOI, Oct 9, 2018