CM urges Guv to flag issue of Rs.5637.4-cr pending RDF with President and PM
Chandigarh, September 21, 2023 (Yes Punjab News)
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann on Thursday sought the kind intervention of Governor of the state Banwari Lal Purohit for flagging up the issue of stalled Rural Development Fund (RDF) worth Rs 5637.4 crore with the President of India and Prime Minister.
In a letter to the Governor, Bhagwant Singh Mann recalled that Punjab is a major contributor of food grains to the central pool to ensure food security of the Nation. The Chief Minister said that the procurement of food grains is made by the State Government for and on behalf of Government of India and all the food grains procured under Central pool are handed over to Government of India as per their requirement. He said that as such the state government through its agencies is acting as an agent of the Government of India.
The Chief Minister as a principle all the procurement cost incurred on procurement of food grains is to be reimbursed by the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India. However, he said that in the provisional cost sheet of Kharif Marketing Season of 2020-21, the Government of India has not reimbursed Rural Development Fund for want of some clarification.
Subsequently, Bhagwant Singh Mann said that after the discussions, the state government submitted all the clarification as sought by the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India and also amended the Punjab Rural Development Act, 1987 as per the directions of Government of India/FCI.
The Chief Minister said that accordingly, the withheld amount of Rural Development Fee up to RMS 2021-22 was released by the Government of India. However, he bemoaned that from KMS 2021-22 onwards, the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India has stopped allowance of Rural Development Fees inspite of making amendment in Punjab Rural Development Act, 1987. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that Rural Development Fees @3% of MSP is payable to the Punjab Rural Development Board as per section 7 of the Punjab Rural Development Act (PRDA), 1987.
The Chief Minister said that all the expenditures are made as per the provisions of PRDA, 1987 and all the heads of expenditures are basically for rural, agriculture and related issues. He said that these ultimately affect the agricultural growth and facilitate the farmers in increasing their livelihood which leads to increase in efficiency of procurement centers. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that Government Of India while issuing Provisional Cost Sheet for RMS 2022-23 has allowed MDF @2% and retained 1% causing loss of Rs.175 crores.
The Chief Minister further said that GOI while issuing a provisional cost sheet for Wheat season 2023-24 has reduced the MDF from 3% to 2%. He said that this has resulted into an additional loss of Rs.265 crores making it a total loss of Rs. 440 crores (Rs. 175 crores + Rs. 265 crores) to the State for these two seasons. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the non-release of these levies at this stage is adversely affecting the rural infrastructure and economy.
The Chief Minister further said that the Mandi Board/ Rural Development Board is not able to repay the loan/liabilities created for development of rural infrastructure in the past. He said that the matter has already been taken up many times with the Government of India even at the level of Hon’ble Prime Minister, India. However, Bhagwant Singh Mann said that an amount of RDF worth Rs 5637.4 crore has not been yet released by the centre.
The Chief Minister said that due to the non-receipt of pending RDF and MDF, Mandi Board/Rural Development Board is not able to repay the existing loans. Likewise, it is not able to continue with the uninterrupted developmental activities for the welfare of farmers and rural population of the State. Bhagwant Singh Mann asked the Governor to take up the matter with the President and Prime Minister of India so that the due amount can be released at the earliest.