Sunday, August 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Punjab to get $ 1 bn from IFC

New York, August 10
The International Financial Consortium (IFC) comprising leading banks and foundations has agreed to provide $ 1 billion to boost Punjab’s rural development programme during the visit of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The money would be utilised for improving water supply, sanitation, establishment of public amenities and on integrated development programmes in the rural areas, Capt Amarinder Singh said yesterday at the end of his two-day visit to the USA.

He said his government had drawn up an ambitious plan to provide basic amenities in the villages but shortage of funds had held up the implementation.

Non-resident Punjabis, who had done extremely well in the USA were very enthusiastic to invest in the state, he said.

The Chief Minister said opening up of markets had adversely affected Punjab’s farmers, as 84 per cent of agriculturists own less than five acres contrary to the impression that Punjab had large farms.

In recent years, some 600 farmers, who were unable to pay debt or make living, had committed suicide.

He also stressed the need for development of agro-industries which could use produce of the farmers to provide value-added products.

On the effect of drought on the crops, Capt Amarinder Singh said so far there was little effect as 93 per cent of the land in the state was irrigated. The government had diverted power from industries and residential areas so tubewells could function.

But if there was no rain over a prolonged period it could have an impact, he added. PTI



War of words over Punjab CM’s visit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
While on the one hand the Punjab Government today claimed that a high-level delegation led by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, met with unprecedented success in the USA, on the other war of words has broken out between the ruling party and the Shiromani Akali Dal over the visit.

The media adviser to the government, Mr B.I.S. Chahal, said today that the delegation met various overseas funding agencies to seek much-needed financial resources for rural development programmes and schemes for the upliftment of vulnerable sections such as women, children and the Scheduled Castes.

He claimed that the delegation had secured international assistance of $ 1 billion (approximately Rs 5000 crore) from the International Financial Consortium (IFC).

However, it has not been made clear whether the IFC would give direct loan to the Punjab Government or make the funding through a private company engaged in housing finance in India with which the IFC has financial tie-up and whether the Union Government has cleared the state government’s proposal to seek funds from a foreign funding agency or not?

Meanwhile in a joint statement two Congress ministers- Chowdhary Jagjit Singh and Khushal Behal, today took strong exception to the accusations and “outbursts”of Mr Parkash Singh Badal against Capt Amarinder Singh regarding his foreign tour. They said that Mr Badal was trying to divert attention of the masses from the main issues.

Reacting sharply to the alleged callous utterances of Mr Badal that Capt Amarinder Singh had gone abroad for fun and entertainment on the pretext of getting money for the state, the ministers said it smacked of his ( Mr Badal’s) utter frustration and dejection owing to the involvement of former Akali ministers in blatant corruption and other malpractices.

On the other hand, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, a spokesman of SAD, today urged the Chief Minister to explain his visit to the UK and the USA.


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