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Punjab

Centre arm- twisting state over farm stir: Manpreet

January 07, 2021 06:01 AM

COURTESY HT JAN 7

Centre arm- twisting state over farm stir: Manpreet

HT Correspondent

letterschd@hindustantimes.com

Chandigarh : Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Wednesday accused the Centre of arm-twisting the state government over the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the three new agriculture laws.

Manpreet said the Centre had stopped the rural development fee (RDF) received by the Punjab government for paddy procurement and denied a major food park project to the state. “The central government stopped RDF of Rs 1,200 crore for paddy procurement. I met the central minister, but his attitude and response smacked of political animosity. RDF is a statutory tax and they (Centre) cannot stop it, so they asked how we are spending it. We have provided details, but there is no response,” he said, at a press conference, calling the Centre’s actions as inappropriate.

He said that UAE had planned three food parks in India with an investment of $7 billion and was keen to set up one in Punjab for food processing. “The Centre has decided to give one of these to Gujarat, no prize for guessing, and the remaining two to Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This is unfair selection,” he said, in the same breath. Badal added that the state’s goods and services tax (GST) compensation dues had also not been paid, accusing the central government of reneging on their constitutional obligation. “This is the situation we (finance department) are in. They (Centre) are irritated with us over the farmers’ stir, and why the state government is not curbing it. It is an arm-twisting tactic,” he said.

On the performance of his department, Manpreet said the state had not availed the overdraft facility from the Reserve Bank of India in the current fiscal despite the pandemic and other constraints. “In 2016-17, the RBI had closed the treasury and the state was in overdraft for 179 days, incurring penal interest rates. In our (present Congress regime’s) first year, we were in overdraft for 100 days, 63 days in 2018-19 and 47 days in 2019-20. This year, the state government has not been in overdraft for even a single day,” he said.

On reforms-linked increase in the borrowing limit of states, he said the Centre had increased the borrowing limit of states to 5% of gross state domestic product (GSDP) from 3%, but the state government would not be borrowing more than the original cap.

 

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