The total expenditure will be Rs 6 lakhs per head, half of which will be borne by the government – in effect, the taxpayers.
Mumbai: Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar and 15 other lawmakers have flown to Australia and New Zealand for 2 weeks to review the loan process to farmers of those countries.
According to an NDTV report, the total expenditure will be Rs 6 lakhs per head, half of which will be borne by the government – in effect, the taxpayers. The legislators will pay the balance.
A day's stop at Singapore has also been included in the itinerary. One companion will be permitted per legislator - 2 legislators will be accompanied by their spouses, some will be accompanied by their personal assistants and some have decided to take their siblings.
The "study tour", as it has been dubbed by the government, began on Tuesday.
"Such tours are necessary and are conducted to enlighten oneself and to learn good practices from other countries," Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told NDTV.
Besides the Agriculture Minister, who is from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the delegation will include members of Opposition like Congress as well.
This comes after the farmers of Maharashtra demanded that the government waive Rs 30,000 crores of loan allowed to them, after Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath sanctioned a similar move. The state CM Devendra Fadnavis had said he was intent on exploring a similar plan for the farmers of Maharashtra.
Trapped in a debt-cycle, about 700 farmers have committed suicide in the drought-hit Vidarbha and Marathwada region. Besides the loan waiver, the farmers are also asking for better payment for their produce.
During the previous Congress-NCP government, such a trip was planned, but later called off after rampant criticism of the massive expenditure in times of such financial stress.
While at least one MLA from Congress is already on the trip, Congress leader Radha Krishna Vikhe Patil said, "The Agriculture Minister should not have gone on this trip."