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Posted at: Jun 20, 2017, 2:16 AM; last updated: Jun 20, 2017, 2:16 AM (IST)

Cong now blames Centre for Rs 31,000-crore ‘food scam’

Amaninder Pal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19

In an apparent climbdown, the Congress has pinned the fault for the Rs 31,000 crore food scam by the SAD-BJP on the faulty procurement policies of the Centre.

During its poll campaign, it had dubbed it as the biggest “food scam” but the White Paper doesn’t even hint that the gap was result of any scam. Rather, it has blamed the Centre for this huge liability of the state.

The only major fault that the paper could find with the previous regime was its “ineffective presentation of state’s claims” and readiness with which the government had accepted the Centre’s offer to convert liability into a loan, which the state is bound to pay for the next 20 years.

Another charge is that the Akali-BJP failed to make budgetary provisions to repay the amount to the Centre. Again, the charge doesn’t suggest any scam.

In a 13-page chapter ‘Liability of Cash Credit Limit’ exclusively dedicated to this crucial issue, the incumbent government traces the genesis of the problem in “the difference between actual costs incurred in procurement operations and costs reimbursable as per the Provisional Costs Sheet (PCS).”

Apart from payment of MSP, procurement exercise also includes expenditures like taxes, labour charges, transportation, milling charges, administrative charges and cost of gunny bags. All such elements are part of the PCS.

The document itself admits that the actual cost of procurement is invariably more than expenditure cited in the PCS.

“Due to non-reimbursement of the actual expenses, the gap had been increasing due to compound interest. The government didn’t make any budgetary provision for adjustment of such a gap which was finally made in the kharif season 2015-16”, reads the White Paper.

Regarding the role of the previous government, it only added that the entire burden of settlement of outstanding accounts couldn’t have been put squarely on the state government without any contribution from the Centre or banks.

“However, the previous government accepted the same, burdening the citizens with a huge debt”, the paper reads.

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