Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan, on Thursday assured the Punjab Chief Minister of time-bound resolution of all the pending issues to enable timely release of Cash Credit Limit (CCL) for the ongoing Paddy procurement season in the state.The Union Food Minister assured Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh of immediate release of the balance reimbursement of Rs. 500 crore towards ID Cess and Purchase stock on Wheat (RMS 2017-18). He also directed the department officials to clear Rs. 400 crore of the pending Rs. 857 crore subsidy under NFSA for 2nd quarter and 3rd quarter 2018 within a day or two, while acceding to Captain Amarinder Singh’s request for expeditious release of Rs. 435 crore of Custody and Maintenance charge for Paddy.This was disclosed to mediapersons here by Captain Amarinder Singh after a meeting with the Union Minister to press for expediting resolution of various important pending matters to ensure timely release of CCL.The Chief Minister said they had discussed all pending payments, which Paswan had assured of prompt resolution.The Chief Minister said he had also raised the issue of smooth movement of stored grains and had urged Paswan to direct FCI to expedite the movement to enable creation of space for fresh arrivals. He told mediapersons he would also be taking up the issue with the Railways Minister and seek more trains to speed up the transportation of food grains.The Chief Minister disclosed that procurement of 1 lakh quintal of grain had already been done in Punjab this season. The Chief Minister told mediapersons, in response to questions, that his government was hopeful of controlling stubble burning to some extent with the machines/equipment being provided to farmers on subsidized rates. The law to check the menace was already in place and action would be taken, as needed, as per the law, he added.
In response to another question, Captain Amarinder Singh said he was not in favour of allowing cultivation of opium as Punjab was battling a serious drug problem.On the issue of the Kartarpur corridor, the Chief Minister said he had written to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to take up the matter with Pakistan to enable opening of the corridor for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Sahib ji next year.Earlier, in a DO letter handed over to the Union Minister, the Chief Minister said that as a result of the Government of India’s delay in taking decisions on the pending issues, the Punjab government was facing financial constraints to fill the gap in Food Cash Credit Account, which was likely to cause delay in sanctioning of Cash Credit Limit for ongoing Paddy procurement.“While we are making every effort to ensure smooth procurement of Paddy, early release of pending payments by the Ministry and Food Corporation of India would help us to make timely payment to farmers and minimize, if not fully eliminate, avoidable stress on farmers,” he told Paswan.Among the pending issues raised by the Chief Minister was reimbursement of the balance 50% of ID Cess and Purchase Tax on Wheat (RMS 2017-18) stocks in hand as on 30th June 2017. He pointed out that since GST was implemented w.e.f. 1st July 2017, whereby Purchase tax, ID Cess and VAT were subsumed in GST, hence Purchase Tax and ID Cess was payable on wheat purchased during Rabi 2017-18, before the implementation of GST as the procurement period ended on 31st May 2017.
However, against reimbursement of Rs. 984 crore, the Centre had reimbursed only 50%. On the issue of subsidy under NFSA for 2nd quarter and 3rd quarter 2018, the Chief Minister pointed out that about 4 lakh tons of wheat under National Food Security Act was distributed in Punjab during 2nd quarter ending 30th September 2018. The subsidy was yet to be received, he noted, seeking its immediate release, as well as release of advance subsidy for 3rd quarter of 2018.Referring to the matter of Custody and Maintenance (C&M) charge for Paddy, the Chief Minister said that his government, through State procurement agencies, had already submitted claims C&M expenditure incurred on safe upkeep of paddy procured in Central Pool from KMS 2003-04 to 2016-17 amounting to approx. Rs.735 crore. Of this, FCI has released Rs. 300 crore to the State Agencies but the balance amount was still pending because of delay in issuance of clarification by the Ministry of Food on the issue of reimbursement of user charges of wooden crates paid to millers by State agencies w.e.f. KMS 2009-10 onwards.Captain Amarinder Singh also raised the issue of Custody and Maintenance charges for wheat stored in CAP, seeking revision in the final cost sheets for RMS 2007-08 to 2013-14 to allow due Custody and Maintenance charges to State Government/ Agencies on wheat stored in Cover and Plinths during these years on the basis of actual/bonafide expenditure incurred. Reimbursement should also accordingly be made, he added.