Loans: Centre should check fund misuse

The news-item “PM to meet Dharia on farm loans” (Oct 30) says, “The Centre may have little option but to accede to his demand for reduction on farm loan to 4 per cent”. As a retired banker, I would like to highlight the practical aspect of the problem.

In most cases, bankers are very selective in giving loans to the poor and marginal farmers. The bankers should be told to maintain a register wherein all the loan applications received by post, courier or by hand can be recorded. In a day or two, the farmers should be given in writing what were the documents and then the loan can be sanctioned and disbursed within a week. The whole process should be made time bound.

The 4 per cent interest should be restricted for the poor and marginal farmers who want loan up to Rs 1-2 lakh. Those who want loan up to Rs 4 lakh should be charged 7 per cent interest and beyond that 10 per cent. I have seen a few rich farmers taking loan at 7 per cent and using it for marriage; some borrow it and put it in the senior citizens’ scheme and claim 9 per cent interest! Monitoring, banker’s responsibility though, is very difficult. The government will have to check fund misuse at both ends.



Hold the price line

Our national leaders are busy in fooling the public. The print media is busy in reporting petty crimes. And the electronic media is keeping the public engrossed in soap operas like Kal Kapal, Inder Jal, Vardat, etc. But nobody is concerned about the prices and the common man’s quest for roti, kapda aur makan.

The common eatables are going beyond the common man’s reach. This disturbing trend leads to crime and unrest in society. The Opposition parties are required to play a constructive role to check this menace.

RAM LAL SHARMA, Hoshiarpur

Time for dialogue

S. Nihal Singh’s article, “Time for a dialogue” is timely. Culture is the sum total of a country’s tradition, language and historical memories. Religion, of course, has been the main prop. Unfortunately, efforts towards integrating the differing cultures have virtually failed. But this has not been so in the UK.

The writer rightly said that public opinion in the West must force their ruling establishments to reject policies which are unfair or unjust to the Muslims. A dialogue between the concerned parties brooks no delay.

In the context, let me quote Mahatma Gandhi on the need to bridge the differences between the Hindus and the Muslims during India’s Partition: “This would be a good tiding of great joy and to all the people. Thus, the world which had been a disfigurement, would become a thing of permanent beauty and graciousness.



A boon to cancer patients

This has reference to the news item, “Prices of 866 medicines slashed” (Nov 1). Union Minister for Chemicals Ram Vilas Paswan’s proposal to start “The Cancer Medicine Assistance Scheme” in all the major cancer hospitals of the country is laudable. At present, the majority of cancer patients in India cannot afford to buy the costly anti-cancer drugs.

Under the new scheme, anti-cancer drugs would be provided at 50 per cent of market price and free of cost to all those living below poverty line, handicapped persons and senior citizens.

Clearly, Mr Paswan’s heart beats for the have-nots. He should also introduce similar schemes for patients of chronic renal failure and other diseases.

Dr AJAY BAGGA, Hoshiarpur



Option for pensioners

The Punjab Civil Service Rules permit pensioners to opt for commutation of pension. However, he/she has to undergo medical examination if the commutation is opted after one year of retirement. The lump sum payable on commutation is calculated in accordance with the table of present value based on the rate of interest prescribed per annum as adopted by the Central Government for its employees.

The state government peremptorily modified the table enhancing the rate of interest from 4.75 per cent to 8 per annum in July 2003. This has left the employees in the lurch. Thanks to The Tribune for highlighting their resentment, the Punjab government has now restored the table based on 4.75 per cent per annum in force prior to July 2003. This will apply to all cases of retirement on or after Oct 31, 2006.

The commutation value in the case of those retirees who did not opt for commutation earlier and exercise their option for commutation now, which is valid as per rules, is also required to be worked out as per the table in force at the time of submission of option, i.e. 4.75 per cent and not at the time of retirement, i.e. 8 per cent.

However, the word ‘retirement’ used in the letter dated Oct 31, 06 had created doubts in some quarters. This will unnecessarily delay the settlement of long-awaited cases of the retirees. To mitigate the hardship, the Finance Department should issue a clarification.

T.L. SHARMA, Ropar

No driving code

It is heartening to note that India has made tremendous progress in many areas during the last decade. One such area is transport infrastructure and the increasing ownership of automobiles.

However, driving standards have deteriorated. No one appears to follow any traffic code. One wonders if there are any rules that drivers and other road users are expected to follow. No wonder, the accident rate has increased in recent times. It is time the government introduced minimum driving standards and a driving code that all road users are legally bound to follow.





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