June 15, 2024

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Coffee With HT: Agriculture key to achieving trillion-dollar economy goal, says Suresh Khanna

Uttar Pradesh finance minister Suresh Kumar Khanna has said increasing agriculture growth in the state was one of the keys to Uttar Pradesh becoming a trillion-dollar economy by 2027.

He also said the Yogi government was making all possible efforts to accelerate the agriculture growth on the one hand and enhancing income of farmers on the other.

“For UP to achieve the target of becoming a one trillion-dollar economy, it is very essential that the agriculture growth in the state goes up to 20% from the current 15%,” he said while speaking in the “Coffee with HT” programme here. The other sectors where the growth rate needed to be increased were manufacturing and service, he added.

The government, according to Khanna, is continuously endeavouring to increase agriculture production and productivity and create market for farmers’ produce. “This is within this objective only that the Budget I presented on Thursday also seeks to spend 1,000 crore on minor irrigation besides setting up 15,000 solar pumps. We have also halved the power tariff applicable on farmers’ tube wells,” he said.

The minister said a record procurement of wheat and paddy under the minimum support price (MSP) system was done in the state during the last five years while the cane dues paid to farmers were 95,000 crore more than what the previous government paid between 2012 and 2017. He said both farmers and agriculture sectors would have been in a much better position by now had the Covid-19 not happened wasting two years.

On employment

The minister said the government was getting a family survey conducted after which it would ensure that at least one member in each family gets job or becomes capable of self-employment.

“Though the rate of employment in U.P. has come down from 18% in 2016 to just 2.9% now, our government is trying to create more and more jobs in the state,” he said. Khanna said more spending on infrastructure would automatically generate more jobs.

“We also feel that anyone who is skilled never remains unemployed and the government is trying to develop skills of people to make them more employable,” he said. The finance minister said the government also provided jobs to 4.50 lakh people in various government departments during the last five years.

On VAT cut on fuel

The minister said the value-added tax (VAT) on diesel and petrol in U.P. was one of the lowest in the country and hence the state had no proposal for any further cut.

“The VAT on petrol and diesel was lower in U.P. than most other states, including Rajasthan, even before the Centre reduced the excise duty on the auto fuel in November last year and recently this month,” he said.