Punjab is a major food-grains contributor to the Nation poolC
To safeguard the interest of State’s farmers, Punjab Finance Minister Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal on Wednesday urged Union Government to continue the procurement of wheat and paddy at Minimum Support Price (MSP) from the State of Punjab, besides ensuring procurement of maize and alternate crops to promote crop diversification and to address the problem of depleting ground water table.
During the Pre-Budget meeting of Finance Ministers of all Sates and Union Territories with Union Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman at New Delhi, Mr. Badal also raised the issue of Crop Residue Management, suggesting that Government of India should make provision in the Provisional Cost Sheet for Crop Residue Management @Rs.100 per quintal over and above the MSP.
He further pointed out that Govt. of India has been providing financial assistance to the States for creating infrastructure in Roads/ Power/ Irrigation, etc. However, States like Punjab has already created such infrastructure, without the aid of Union Government, by incurring expenditure from its own resources or through debt, are being penalized in the present set of schemes. “The State has not only been losing to non-receipt of grants for creation of infrastructure from the Centre since infrastructure already exists but is incurring debt repayments for creating the infrastructure from its own resources”, said the Minister, adding that to incentivize States like Punjab through special assistance for rejuvenating the existing infrastructure.
With the growing concerns on the depleting groundwater levels and a dire need for the management of waste water, Union Finance Minister was requested to formulate a special scheme for the establishment of water treatment plants and rejuvenation of the villages’ ponds in the forthcoming Union Budget.
Mr. Badal said that Punjab is a major food-grains contributor to the Nation pool. It contributes approximately 120-125 LMT of wheat and 105-110 LMT of rice every year. However, the slow pace of liquidation of food-grains from the State during last 2-3 years has resulted in shortage of storage space for new arrivals of crops. He sought the Central Government’s intervention for ensuring early evacuation and liquidation of food stocks from godowns of the State.
On macro-economic policy decisions, for revival of economic growth and to promote Public Investments, Mr. Badal urged the Centre to relax the FRBM limits to enable the States in mobilizing additional revenue to be spent exclusively on infrastructure and other productive projects like roads, bridges, check dams, etc. and generate employment and demand. The spending/public investment would be instrumental in turning the business cycle and reviving the consumption and demand in the economy, leading to an increase in the tax revenues. With current levels of inflation, this additional fiscal space would certainly boost growth, create jobs leading to demand creation and increase consumption, he said, while these propositions were supported by almost all the participating States.