Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said on Thursday that the state government has no option but to implement the mandatory directive of the Center on direct bank transfer of MSP to farmers from the current session.
After a long discussion with Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal on this issue, Mr. Badal said that the Center has demanded the state government to give more time to farmers to implement Direct Bank Transfer (DBT) of Minimum Support Price (MSP). Rejected.
Punjab Chief Minister has called a meeting with “Arthia“(Commission agent) before the wheat procurement on Friday to discuss a new mechanism that will start from 10 April.
Punjab procures wheat and rice on MSP on behalf of the central government under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). Currently, MSP is paid to farmers in Punjab directly through Arthiya, unlike the bank account of farmers in other states.
“The Government of India (GOI) asked us to implement DBT for farmers. We had asked for more time because Punjab has a traditional Arthia system. …. But the Government of India rejected our demand. We tried a lot but they did not listen, ”Mr. Badal told reporters after a 2.30-hour meeting.
The state government has “no other option” but a new mechanism will be worked out to implement DBT for farmers from the current season.
Citing the reasons for rejecting the Punjab demand, Badal said that the central government was arguing that the food stock procured was its own and that the state government was only an agent and should be paid directly to the farmers.
“but Arthia The traditional system is and needs to be understood. This system is difficult to open. …. We will come out with a mechanism, “he said.
Apart from Badal, Punjab Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, PWD Minister Vijay Inder Singla and Mandi Board President S Lal Sing were present at the meeting. Senior officials of the Union Ministries of Food and Agriculture were also present.
Punjab Food Minister said, “Tomorrow, we will meet Arthia And take them in the loop. We will develop a mechanism that will provide some protection Arthia. CM held a meeting with Arthia tomorrow.”
From April 10, wheat procurement will begin and every grain will be purchased, he said, adding, “The payment will go directly to the (bank) farmers’ account.”
Speaking to PTI, Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said, “In the meeting, the Punjab minister agreed to implement DBT for farmers from this season. Currently, MSP is done through payment. Arthia. We are asking them to pay the farmers directly. ‘
He said that state governments were asked to implement DBT for farmers in 2018. By 2019, almost all states except Punjab started implementing it.
Among other issues, the Finance Minister of Punjab said that the Center has agreed to postpone the implementation of land record integration (necessary to track farmers’ land ownership during procurement).
On releasing the pending Rural Development Fund (RDF) to the state government, the minister said that about 3 percent RDF is earmarked for Punjab. The state is getting only one percent and the remaining two percent is pending.
“Goi is not happy with the justification given by us. He assured that if the state government gives a credible justification for where the funds have been spent, the Indian government will issue arrears of two per cent fee.”
In the meeting, the Finance Minister of Punjab expressed concern about the stock of food grains in the state and requested for early liquidation so that there is room for a new crop.
“The GOI has assured that it will take stock of food grains from Punjab,” he said and the Center has also assured that it will soon release the dues of Rs 15,000 crore to the state.
The minister also told the Center that the state would implement the distribution of fortified rice through public distribution system and welfare schemes such as the mid-day meal scheme.