Expressing concern over the Food Corporation of India’s gradual withdrawal from procurement of foodgrains in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has decided to raise the issue with the Centre and seek increase in the central agency’s procurement share.
The Chief Minister said this while chairing a high-level meeting to review the procurement arrangements for the forthcoming Rabi Season.
Captain Amarinder Singh said he would ask the Union Food Minister to increase the share of FCI in state procurement, which he pointed out had declined from 30.69% to a mere 12% in the last 20 years. He also highlighted that in the last ten years, FCI had been pulling back at the last minute from procuring even the quota decided at the start of the season.
FCI, being the primary Central agency mandated to ensure foodstocks for the nation, should remain actively involved in the food procurement process, Captain Amarinder Singh said, adding that the gradual decline in FCI’s share adversely impacts the financial position of the whole procurement process, thereby burdening the state of Punjab. The last-minute refusal by FCI to not procure its earlier decided share always puts additional burden on the state’s finances, the Chief Minister added.
Captain Amarinder Singh also gave in-principle approval to withdraw four state procurement agencies – MARKFED, PUNSUP, PSWC and Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) -from procurement related operations in a phased manner, beginning with PAIC. The move is aimed at enabling these state procurement agencies to solely focus on their original mandate of promoting agro based products and cooperative movements.
Further, with a view to seeking early redressal of long pending food procurement issues with the GoI, Captain Amarinder Singh said he would be writing to the Union Finance Minister and the Union Food Minister, seeking a joint meeting.
Underscoring the fact that despite the state being forced to take over the colossal Rs. 31,000 Crores CCL Gap as term loan, the structural issues between the state and the Centre remain unresolved, Captain Amarinder Singh stated that he would request the Modi Government to resolve all pending issues for once and all at the earliest.
Lauding the state Food Department for ensuring four back-to-back seamless procurement operations since the the present Government took over, Captain Amarinder Singh asked the Food Secretary to impress upon GoI to hasten the process of grainstock movement to create more space for the storage of wheat during the ensuing RMS 2019-20.
Emphasizing the need to make elaborate arrangements for forthcoming Rabi Season, he also directed the Food Supplies Minister to gear up their entire staff for timely, smooth and hassle free procurement to win over the confidence of the farmers.
Expressing concern over the financial loss suffered by the state on account of spoilage, the Chief Minister also asked the department to undertake effective steps for scientific storage of foodgrains.
The state expects to procure 130 LMT of wheat during the RMS 2019-20, out of which state procurement agencies will procure 104 LMTs wheat, Secretary Food and Supplies apprised the meeting.
Prominent amongst others who were present at the meeting were Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Food & Civil Supplies Minister
Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Finance Secretary Anirudh Tewari, Additional Chief Secretary Cooperation Viswajit Khanna, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Secretary Food & Supplies KAP Sinha, Director Food & Supplies Anindita Mitra.