The Centre has set March 31 as the deadline for the Punjab government to settle outstandings of Rs 42,000 crore of the previous cash credit limits (CCLs) received during different seasons for procurement of foodgrains.
The state government has been told that funds for the forthcoming wheat procurement season would be released only after all previous accounts are settled, it is learnt.
On the other hand, the Punjab government says their genuine claims can’t be denied and since the state procures foodgrains on behalf of the Centre, the release of CCL has to be unconditional.
According to senior officials of the state food department, of the pending Rs 42,000 crore, foodgrains worth Rs 19,000 crore are in the godowns of the state and rest are recoveries for the expenditure made by the state.
The state has been asked to submit bills of all pending claims by January 31, after which the legitimacy of the claims will be worked out. The union ministry of food is closely monitoring the entire process and the Food Corporation of India is holding a fortnightly meeting with the state’s food and civil supplies department.
The Punjab government that is geared up to settle the accounts has asked all its five procurement agencies to raise the claims.
Food and civil supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon is following up the issue on a day-to-day basis.
Earlier, the CCL for the paddy crop had been stalled by the Centre, after which the state government had followed it up strongly, and then the CCL was released in three instalments.
Reimbursements sought by Punjab
Punjab is seeking reimbursements amounting to Rs 23,016 crore, of which Rs 12,621 crore is the principal amount and Rs 10,395 crore interest.
Of these, Rs 2,652 crore is for transportation of paddy from mandis to the storage point, Rs 1,064 crore for the losses suffered due to sale of paddy in the open market in 1994-95 and Rs 15,432 crore incidental charges of both rabi and kharif marketing seasons since 2003-04.
An amount of Rs 939 crore is for reimbursement of the difference between the simple interest paid by the Centre on incidental charges but charged by the RBI on the CCL account on compound basis from 1997 to 2001; Rs 1,272 crore is for non-reimbursement of increase in infrastructure development cess from 2% to 3% as per notification of the Punjab government.
Punjab has also raised claims of Rs 1,567 crore for actual establishment expenses incurred on foodgrains operations and paid by the Centre at rate of 2.5% of minimum support price from rabi marketing season 1998 to 2009. The state has also raised claims of Rs 89 crore for less payment of guarantee fee to the state procurement agencies by the Centre.
Figures that matter
Rs 42,000 crore Total outstanding amount.
Rs 19,000 crore Worth foodgrains in state godowns.
Rs 23,016 crore State is seeking reimbursements.