P. Samuel Jonathan

GUNTUR: Finance Minister P. Chidambaram waved his magic wand writing off agricultural loans of small and marginal farmers to the extent of Rs.60,000 crore in the Union Budget and over 1.20 lakh farmers who have availed themselves of loans from cooperative banks in the district are already smiling.

The Guntur District Cooperative Central Bank (GDCC) rescheduled seasonal agricultural loans (crop loans) loans to the extent of Rs.148 crore in 2005 and the farmers who have not paid their due are expected to benefit from the waiver. In addition the G.D.C.C Bank has an overdue of Rs.95 crore of institutional credit, which too is expected to be provided liquidity by the Government.

``The rescheduled loan is the largest among the primary cooperative societies in the State and in a district where the recovery rate is not so good, the waiver will benefit both the banks and the small and marginal farmers,” G.D.C.C regional manager B. Viswanatham told The Hindu on Monday.

The G.D.C.C bank has 33 branches and 167 societies. The bank has lent Rs.180 crore farm loan during the Kharif season and Rs.10 crore during the Rabi season. The loans in the non-farm sector amount to Rs.10 crore. Out of the total outstanding dues of the bank is Rs.512 crore, the Government’s decision to waive off all the loans would provide a liquidity of about Rs.300 crore to the bank, officials say.

However, the bank officials have yet to finalise the package in terms of long term loans and are waiting a formal announcement of guidelines from the government.

Buoyed by the decision, bank officials say that they would launch resource mobilization drives with renewed viguor and might take a loan from the APCOB to fulfill its commitments.