Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday sought the kind intervention of Union Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles Minister Piyush Goyal for immediate release of pending arrears of Rural Development Fee (RDF) and Market Development Fee (MDF) worth Rs 3095 crore.
The Chief Minister, who called on Piyush Goyal here at his office, said that the Union government has not yet released RDF worth Rs 2880 crore for KMS 2021-22, RMS 2022-23 and KMS 2022-23 and MDF worth Rs 215 crore.
He said that these funds are utilised for the holistic development of the state especially in the rural areas. However, Bhagwant Mann bemoaned that due to non release of these funds the development of state, especially in rural areas, has been adversely affected.
The Chief Minister said that RDF is payable to Punjab Rural Development Board of Government of Punjab as per section 7 of Punjab Rural Development Act 1987, @3% of MSP. He said that RDF has been paid on regular basis since 1987 till RMS 2020-21 as per rate notified (3% of MSP) by Government of Punjab till RMS 2020-21.
Bhagwant Mann said that the purpose of this fund is basically to promote the agriculture and rural infrastructure which ultimately add to overall development of agriculture viz rural road network, marketing infrastructure, augmentation of storage facility, land record computerization, automation, mechanization of mandis and others.
The Chief Minister bemoaned that RDF was restricted to 1% of MSP in the Provisional Cost sheet of KMS 2020-21 onwards, on the plea of its scrutiny with respect to purpose of funds. He said that the state government had submitted all clarifications, requisite documents and details of expenditure after which RDF was allowed for KMS 2020-21 and RMS 2021-22 subject to condition that Punjab had to amend RDF, Act before commencement of Kharif Marketing Season 2021- 22.
Bhagwant Mann apprised the Union Minister that subsequently the state had duly amended the Punjab Rural Development Act, 1987 as per directions of Government of India.
However, the Chief Minister rued that even after compliance regarding amendment in RDF act, 1987, RDF worth Rs 2880 crore has not been allowed in Provisional cost sheets for KMS 2021-22, RMS 2022-23 and KMS 2022-23 so far.
Likewise, he said that MDF @3% was paid by the Government of India to the state till KMS 2021-22. Bhagwant Mann said that despite of repeated requests, the Government of India has withheld MDF @1% amounting to Rs.215 crores.
The Chief Minister urged Piyush Goyal to immediately release the pending funds of both RDF and MDF so that boost can be given to development of the state.