Finance Minister Arun Jaitely assured Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today that he would direct the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to release Rs 20,683 crore cash credit limit to the state for wheat procurement. The assurance came after Amarinder met the Union Finance Minister at his residence here to seek immediate authorisation and release of Rs 20,683 crore cash credit limit (CCL) for smooth and timely procurement of wheat. Amarinder informed the Finance Minister that a proposal seeking the CCL had already been sent to the RBI. The state government hopes to procure over 100 lakh metric tons of wheat in this season, commencing on April 1.
The state plans to put in place by March 25 all arrangements for wheat procurement. “Jaitley assured the chief minister of the Centre’s full cooperation in ensuring that the farmers in Punjab do not face any problem in the procurement of their grain,” a statement quoting chief minister’s media adviser Raveen Thukral, said. The chief minister described the luncheon meeting as “fruitful” and thanked the Finance Minister for his prompt and positive response.
During the meeting, the chief minister, pointing out that Punjab was the largest contributor to the Central Pool of food grains, requested the Ministry of Finance to ensure timely authorisation of CCL. The chief minister had on Saturday directed all district collectors to personally monitor the procurement process and ensure smooth and hassle-free procurement of wheat. Arrangements are being made on war-footing to streamline the procurement process in all 1,800 mandis of Punjab.
Amarinder, who is incharge of Food and Civil Supplies department, has also cancelled all labour and transportation tenders finalised for the wheat procurement process by the previous SAD-BJP government. Fresh tenders have already been called for. The chief minister has issued stringent orders to ensure that the farmers and commission agents do not face any problems in the mandis.
The state mandi board has been directed to provide all basic amenities and facilities in the mandis, in addition to smooth and timely payments, as well as complete transparency in the process, which the new government has decentralised to make it more structured and effective. The chief minister was accompanied by Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal during his meeting.