The government on Wednesday announced fresh measures to make more cash available for farmers and removed charges shops pay banks for card payments. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) has sanctioned an additional Rs 21,000 crore to district cooperative banks to enable more loans available for farmers ahead of the winter sowing season. Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said that more than 40 percent of small and marginal farmers’ loan needs are met through the cooperative credit structure. Das said that to ensure that farmers get credit and some quantum in cash, NABARD and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been advised to make the required cash available to the district cooperative banks.
“The finance minister (Arun Jaitley) held a video conference with the RBI, NABARD and the banks day before yesterday,” he said. “The required cash will be made available”. On Monday the government allowed farmers to buy seeds with the old high Rs 500 from outlets administered by the government and public sector units. THe move comes amid reports that the move to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes had affected sowing plans for the rabi (winter) season. The economy-wide drain out of the old notes have left many farmers with no cash to buy seeds in the middle of the sowing season. Das also said that public sector banks and some private sector banks, and switching service providers have decided to waive the merchant discount rate (MDR)-- the fee a merchant or a shop pays a bank to access its payment infrastructure—till December 31, 2016. MDR often acts as a disincentive for smaller shops and merchants to install card swiping machines in their establishments. Das said that the transport ministry have advised vehicle manufactures to ensure that all new vehicles should come fitted with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. RFID tags are stuck on the vehicle's windscreen and opens the barrier to let the vehicle pass when it approaches the toll plaza, enabling seamless movement on highways through electronic payment of highway tolls.