OTHERS

Deve Gowda's poser to Manmohan

BANGALORE, AUG. 14. The Janata Dal (Secular) President, H.D. Deve Gowda, today asked the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to clarify if he meant that the Union Government intended to provide farm loan at an interest rate of 3.5 per cent, when he assured the Andhra Pradesh farmers, during his visit to that State recently, that he would like to follow the China model in the farm sector.

Addressing a huge gathering of bank employees at the inauguration of the Vijaya Bank Workers' Organisation's 10th all-India conference here, he said that in China, only 3.5 per cent interest was charged on farm loans to encourage the farm sector.

NPAs

Referring to the inaugural speech delivered by the All-India Bank Employees Association secretary, C.H. Venkatachalam, on the non-performing assets (NPA) of banks valued at Rs. 1,25,000 crores, Mr. Deve Gowda said he was surprised that those who gave sermons on bringing discipline in banks and harped on the loans given to the farmers were silent on this huge amount. Did the people who ruled from Delhi and the Reserve Bank of India knew the problems faced by the farmers? Even after having such a huge NPA, the bankers had a notion that the loans given to farm sector were not safe.

Sops to farmers

He said whether the Janata Dal (S) was an ally of the United Progressive Alliance or not, he would fight for the cause of the farmers. Referring to the sops given to farmers by the Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, in his budget, the former Prime Minister said that he was sorry that the media created such an euphoria about it. While agreeing with the argument that the depositors` money should be protected, he said that there should be a policy to remove inequality through a fair lending policy.

Gurudas Das Gupta, MP and general secretary of All-India Trade Union Congress, participated in the two-day conference. A press release that followed the conference charged the Indian Banks Association with resorting to delaying tactics on wage revision. It said there was no fruitful result in the conciliation meeting held before the Regional Labour Commissioner in Mumbai on August 11 which forced the United Forum of Bank Unions to call for an all-India strike on August 24 demanding early wage revision settlement.

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