Centre refuses release of Rural Development Fund to Punjab : The Tribune India

Centre refuses release of Rural Development Fund to Punjab

Money not received for three consecutive procurement seasons

Centre refuses release of Rural Development Fund to Punjab

Harpal Singh Cheema



Tribune News Service

Ruchika M Khanna

Chandigarh, November 29

In a blow to the cash-strapped state government, the Centre has refused to immediately release the Rural Development Fund (RDF) amount of Rs 2,880 crore to the state. Instead, the state has been asked to reduce its “statutory charges”.

RDF is our right: Cheema

  • Finance Minister Harpal Cheema said, “Getting the RDF is our right. With RDF dues not being cleared, our rural infrastructure will be hit as we will have no resources to maintain the rural and mandi infrastructure”
  • The Centre told us to amend the Act and we did it with the hope that our pending payments would be cleared, he said
  • This shows the anti-Punjab and anti-farmer face of the BJP, which is hell bent on punishing Punjab farmers for their year-long agitation

Punjab has not received the RDF for three procurement seasons now. Beginning the kharif marketing season in 2021, the RDF has also not been released for the rabi marketing season earlier this year, and for the ongoing kharif marketing season.

While Rs 1,760 crore was due before the paddy season began, another Rs 1,120 crore is now pending as dues for the ongoing paddy procurement season. The Provisional Cost Sheet, sent by the GoI to the state government, makes no mention of this fund, though all other incidental charges to be accrued in paddy procurement are mentioned.

In a letter to the state government now, a copy of which is with The Tribune, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal has said while the state government’s request to issue a revised Provisional Cost Sheet (for two previous seasons and the ongoing one) is “being examined as per rules. It is requested you to consider restricting the statutory charges, particularly in case of foodgrain procured for distribution among the poor and vulnerable sections….”.

The letter further states that by rationalising statutory charges, the subsidy burden on the state exchequer will be reduced and private players will be encouraged to procure grains at higher prices, which in turn will benefit farmers.

The letter has been sent to the state government in response to repeated reminders by the state to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, regarding the release of the RDF dues.

Last year, just before wheat procurement was to begin, the GoI had reduced the RDF charged by the state from 3 per cent to 2 per cent. Later, before the paddy procurement started in 2021, the release of RDF was stopped and the state government was asked to amend the Punjab Rural Development Act.

“We have to start releasing all pending payments for work done in creating/upgrading rural infrastructure from December onwards. If the RDF is not released soon, it could force the government to borrow more,” said an official.

#harpal cheema

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