Srinagar, Dec 12: Jammu and Kashmir government has quietly suspended much hyped Artisans Credit Card (ACC) scheme after interest subsidy liability crossed Rs 60 crore.
Launched by National Conference- Congress government in September 2012, ACC was touted as game changer to economically uplift artisans and rid the handicrafts sector of the middleman menace.
Under the scheme, artisans were eligible for a loan of Rs 90,000 after getting registration cards from the Handicrafts department. Artisans were also entitled for an interest subsidy of 12 per cent. Under the scheme, artisans were supposed to pay monthly installments while the government was to take care of interest component.
Sources said, the state government had released Rs 42 crore for the scheme but it was not enough to cover the interest component. Facing funds crunch, the government failed to clear subsidy liability till it jumped to Rs 60 crore.
“Though some subsidy amount was released by the government, it was not enough to meet requirements. Sponsorship of cases too has been put on hold till subsidy liability is cleared,” said an officer.
President, Kashmir Artisans Forum, Parvez Ahmad Bhat blamed government for failing to come to the rescue of artisans.
“After 2014 floods, artisans were expecting loan waiver. Commitments were made to make ACC at par with Kisan Credit Card (KCC). Even government promised debt relief, which too didn’t happen,” he said.
Bhat said the scheme has proved a white elephant for the artisans. “Only some could repay the loans while many suffered after failing to pay the installments,” he said.
Assistant Director, Department of Handicrafts, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah told The Kashmir Monitor that 50 per cent of interest subsidy liability will be cleared this month.
“Rest 50 percent will be cleared subsequently. By the end of December we are expecting a good relief for the artisans. The scheme will be re-launched to benefit the artisans,” he said.
Shah said that many beneficiaries failed to file premiums and with the result their accounts have become Non-Performing Assets (NPA).