It was much expected that after the launch of the car “Nano” we shall see many more
“Nano” concepts coming up… and here it is the the ruling Congress party demanded that its government launch a unique housing loan scheme of Rs 1 lakh to help the poor get homes.
Mr. Chidambaram was lobbied hard by the Congress leadership to give the 2008-09 Budget a populist, pro-poor look. At the same time, it asked for an effective delivery mechanism to ensure that fruits of economic growth trickle down to all sections of the society. Strongly favouring steps to check price rise, the party wanted major sops for the farmers, including insurance for poor yield due to bad weather.
An influential section of the party’s leadership pressed for launching the soft interest housing loan in the forthcoming Budget at a pre-Budget consultation with Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram,. Although party leaders did not spell out what the rate of interest should be, they would like it to be as low as possible.
The party has asked for farm loan waiver for small and marginal farmers and steps to ensure agri-credit reaches out to all sections of the farmers. It wants the government to take a cue from the MS Swaminathan report and reduce the interest on farm loans to 7 per cent.
“We have asked the government to launch schemes to utilise surplus labour in rural areas by providing incentives to agri-based industries to prevent migration of the workforce from villages to cities,” Moily said.
From redesigning the public distribution system as a food security scheme to providing cheap credit for artisans and handloom workers, the party has asked for a lot of sops for the different sections of the society. Demands for cuts in home loan rates and higher income tax exemptions were also voiced.
“After Rahul Gandhi has become general secretary, the youth is looking towards the Congress with new enthusiasm. The government should launch a massive employment programme for the youth with proper training facilities to reduce the gap between semi-educated and professionally qualified youth,” Veerappa Moily said after the meeting.
The party stressed on the importance of efficient delivery mechanism to ensure that the government schemes were properly implemented. “Flagship programmes like the NREGS should be linked with performance incentives,” said Moily.
Reeta Bahuguna Joshi, the Uttar Pradesh chief of the party, asked for a special package for Bundelkhand.
Thirty-eight leaders, including four Union ministers, were present at the meeting
Much of what Chidambaram heard is what he has been discussing with the Planning Commission: whether there is any point in increasing levels of expenditure on subsidised commodities when the system permits so many leakages.
All that the FM, who did not say a word during the meeting, would say on coming out was: “You will hear my reply on February 29”.
So even we are looking ahead for the FM’s reply…!!!