In the lead-up to the presentation of the Interim Budget 2024, Ashima Goyal, a member of the Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), suggested the possibility of imposing income tax on affluent farmers to introduce fairness into the taxation system. Goyal stressed that government transfers to farmers function as a form of negative income tax, and she proposed implementing a positive income tax for wealthy farmers as part of a shift toward a data-rich system with lower tax rates and minimal exemptions.
The PM-Kisan Yojana, a central scheme fully funded by the government, provides an annual financial assistance of Rs 6,000 to economically disadvantaged farmers. There are indications that the government might increase the financial support under the scheme to Rs 8,000 per farmer ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in April-May. Additionally, considerations are being made to enhance provisions under PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.
The 16th instalment of the PM-KISAN scheme is expected to be launched between February and March 2024, although no official announcement has been made regarding this matter. Notably, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare reports that in the past two months, every fourth beneficiary added to the PM-Kisan scheme has been a woman.
Between November 15, 2023, and January 14, 2024, out of the 40,50,375 beneficiaries added to PM-Kisan, 10,61,278 were women. Uttar Pradesh leads in the number of women beneficiaries, with 1.69 lakh additions, followed by Rajasthan (1.56 lakh), Manipur (1.05 lakh), Jharkhand (90,949), and Kerala (66,887).
The new beneficiaries were enroled through the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra (VBSY), a flagship initiative aimed at creating awareness about government schemes. As of November 15, 2023, there were a total of 8.12 crore PM-Kisan beneficiaries, with 6.27 crore men and 1.83 crore women.
The proposal to tax wealthy farmers has sparked a debate among experts and stakeholders. While some argue that it is crucial to introduce fairness into the taxation system and curb the concentration of wealth among a few farmers, others are concerned that it may discourage investment and innovation in the agricultural sector. The topic is likely to be a key point of discussion in the upcoming Interim Budget 2024.