2019 Lok Sabha
Following the flood in 2018, the Kerala government had given a moratorium on farm loans till October 2019.

The Election Commission (EC) has delayed the Kerala government’s decision to implement the extension of the moratorium on loans taken by farmers. According to the new directive from the EC, the government can implement this only after April 23, the day when the state will go to polls.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Tikka Ram Meena on Saturday said that the government can issue an order for extension of the moratorium after elections, reports The Hindu.

The CEO had earlier given nod to the government’s decision to extend the moratorium on farm loans but had forwarded the request to the Election Commission for the final word earlier this month. The EC, however, returned the file, asking more clarifications on the report.

After the August 2018 flood, the state government had declared a moratorium on farm loans till October 11, 2019. During the floods, 2.8 lakh farmers in the state had incurred a loss of about Rs 1,050 crore. About 46,000 hectares of crops had been destroyed in the flood.

The decision to give moratorium was taken in a meeting held by State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) on the request of the government last August, soon after the floods. Nationalised banks, cooperative banks, small finance banks and scheduled banks had agreed to the moratorium for loans taken by farmers, said a Business Line report.

Meanwhile, a cabinet meeting held in March this year decided to extend the moratorium on loans till December 2019. According to reports, the government failed to issue orders on the cabinet meeting soon after the decision was taken.

It was only after the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha polls came into force that the government decided to put out orders. They then approached the Chief Electoral Officer.

According to reports, the government received criticisms that there was no hurry to implement the extension now, as the moratorium remains till October 2019.