Cen­tre Set to Clear .₹ 20Kcr Cash Credit Limit to Pun­jab

Clear­ance likely in 3 days de­spite the state be­ing hit by pro­cure­ment scam

The Economic Times - - Economy - Vi­nay.Sharma2 @times­group.com

Chandi­garh: The Cen­tre is likely to clear a cash credit limit (CCL) of .₹ 20,000 crore to Pun­jab in the next three days even as the pro­cure­ment scam puts the rul­ing SAD in a tight spot. Wheat pro­cure­ment in Pun­jab has taken a ma­jor hit, forc­ing farm­ers to sell the crop in neigh­bour­ing Haryana. Against the ar­rival of 5.86 lakh met­ric tonnes of wheat from April 1-15 in 2015, a record ar­rival of 37.9 lakh met­ric tonnes was reg­is­tered in Haryana till Fri­day. Alarmed by this, pro­cure­ment agen­cies in Haryana are putting checks in place.

In the midst of the cri­sis, Pun­jab Food and Civil Sup­plies Min­is­ter Adaish Par­tap Singh Ka­iron main­tains that “pro­cure­ment is not a prof­itable propo­si­tion. Pun­jab is largely do­ing it in na­tional in­ter­est.”

His ac­cep­tance of the fact that .₹ 800 crore was di­verted from the CCL — Cen­tral food­grain pro­cure­ment loan— to run its pop­ulist ‘Atta-Dal’ scheme in 2010, has brought forth the fis­cal brazen­ness shown by politi­cians to score brownie points on elec­tion eve.

Ka­iron re­futed ET re­port that stocks worth .₹ 12,000 crore have gone miss­ing, but agreed to the fact that dis­pute has arisen due to un­set­tled amount of .₹ 26,000 crore be­tween the Cen­tre and the Pun­jab govern­ment.

“The stocks can’t dis­ap­pear. We have a fool­proof and trans­par­ent pro­cure­ment sys­tem hav­ing mul­ti­ple safety nets. The Cen­tre owes Pun­jab .₹ 26,000 cr. We have told the Union govern­ment to re­im­burse money,” Ka­iron said.

The min­is­ter fal­tered over a re­port by For­mer Union Min­is­ter Shanta Kumar, cau­tion­ing the BJP govern­ment in 2015 over the di­ver­sion of funds from the Cen­tral loans meant for pro­cure­ment to­wards the Akalis’ pop­ulist Atta-Dal scheme. Now with the Cen­tre play­ing hard­ball on the di­ver­sion of funds and the Re­serve Bank of In­dia seek­ing ex­pla­na­tion on the stocks, Akalis find cor­nered on the is­sue.

“Get­ting loans for pro­cure­ment was never this tough even dur­ing the Congress regime at Cen­tre. The gen­eral sen­ti­ment was, once BJP will be in power, things will smoothen. Chief Min­is­ter Parkash Singh Badal has been de­mand­ing a spe­cial pack­age for Pun­jab and dur­ing the last Assem­bly elec­tions, Akalis made this a ma­jor is­sue, cit­ing Congress party’s step-motherly treat­ment to the state,” says a se­nior Pun­jab cadre of­fi­cer. “This is a mat­ter of fis­cal pru­dence, which the BJP at the Cen­tre is telling states to fol­low. Can­didly, even exCongress govern­ments at Cen­tre over­looked the pro­cure­ment mech­a­nisms. No pol­i­tics should be seen into it.” SAD govern­ment claims that the Cen­tre owed more than .₹ 26,000 crore, in­clud­ing an in­ter­est of .₹ 18,074 crore which Pun­jab in­curred on pro­cure­ment of grains for the Cen­tre and which was to be paid to banks who ad­vanced CCL. The amount in­curred in­cludes costs such as trans­porta­tion cost, labour cost etc. “The amount due from the Cen­tre was the re­sult of bal­ance amount due to ‘pro­vi­sional cost sheet’ pre­pared by the FCI and the ac­tual costs in­curred by the state,” Ka­iron said.

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