Ayaz suggests NA intervention in Thal farmers’ loan-default issue

Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Thursday suggested a parliamentary intervention to examine the issue of agricultural loans’ defaulters, especially from the farming community of three Thal Tehsils of Punjab province and find an amicable solution to the issue.

The minister floated the idea after the PTI MNA Dr. Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla raised the issue during his budget speech in the National Assembly.

Drawing the attention of the house towards the matter, the MNA said the Thal farmers produced only one gram crop in a year, and unfortunately they yielded nothing for the last 6-7 years due to consistent dry weather conditions.

“It (situation) has not only made them unable to pay their agricultural loans but also increased its size manifold due to interest-over-interest.”

He said a farmer, who had got a Rs 50,000 agri-loan, was now liable to pay around Rs.500,000-600,000 because of his default and increasing interest.

Dhandla had requested the National Assembly’s members to come to their (farmers) rescue, as now their pledged lands were being handed over to the loan-facility providing banks for auction.

He said the total loan, of three Thal Tehsils, including Noorpur of district Khushab, Mankera of district Bhakkar and Chaubara of district Layyah, stood at around Rs 3 billion.

The loans were taken from the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP) and other microfinance institutions.

The lawmaker was of the view that if the loans amounting to billions of rupees of industrialists were waived off, why such a facility could not be given to the poor farmers.

Upon this, Minister for Economic Affairs Ayaz Sadiq said loans’ paying-back was a must for everyone, but there was the need to differentiate between the principal amount (amount payable)and interest.

Ayaz suggested for a meeting of the parliamentary delegation with the president of ADBP to find a workable solution to the issue and save their pledged lands from the auction.

“It is a good suggestion and should be implemented on it accordingly,” Deputy Speaker Zahid Akbar Durrani observed.

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