The Meghalaya cabinet today approved the legalization of the sale of homemade wines, with rules to be formulated to boost the niche activity and state farmers.
Other decisions also taken at the cabinet meeting included approval for the amalgamation of the Chief Minister’s Rural Development Fund and the Chief Minister’s Special Urban Development Fund and the interest subvention scheme for farmers.
Speaking after the meeting, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said that the government will formulate rules under which individuals can make homemade wine and sell them legally.
“This will help farmers besides promoting entrepreneurs who will create job opportunities through these rules and framework,” he said. “This will not only boost the wine sector in the state but will also go a long way in helping farmers who produce a lot of fruits all through the year.”
Taxes will be kept attractively low and no VAT will be levied on producers, who will, however, pay a Rs 7,500 annual licence fee.
The cabinet also approved a plan to merge the Chief Minister’s Rural Development Fund and the Chief Minister’s Special Urban Development Fund.
These schemes were implemented separately through the Urban Affairs and Rural departments but will now be brought under tighter control of the CM’s office.
“In the interest of improving the overall efficiency and ensuring that the time spent in processing the files is reduced, these two schemes have been merged into one scheme under the banner of the Chief Minister’s Special Development Fund,” Sangma said.
The rural fund has funds amounting to Rs 8 crore, with Rs 4 crore in the urban fund.
“It will be the same fund, amounting to Rs 12 crore, but it will now be implemented by the CM’s secretariat and the purpose is to ensure that the implementation is done at a faster pace,” the Chief Minister said.
Meanwhile, the cabinet also approved the interest subvention scheme to help in reimbursing two percent of the loans taken out by farmers under the Kisan Credit Card scheme.
Sangma said that around 19,000 farmers who have availed the loan from the Kisan Credit Card scheme will benefit from this, at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore to the public exchequer.
“The government will reimburse two percent of the loan interest for this year,” he said, adding that the government is planning to implement it annually, though the cost might increase up to Rs 5 crore if it expands.
Sangma said that this decision was taken as one of the steps to support farmers during the time of Covid-19.