Having cleared accounts of the cash-credit limit (CCL) to the tune of Rs 23,000 crore received in the 2015 kharif season, the Punjab government is expecting the release of the Rs 26,000 crore CCL for procurement of paddy this season any time now.
With Punjab heading for assembly polls early next year, the Akali-BJP government doesn’t want to take any chances. As the procurement affects every farmer and farm worker, comprising more than 60% of total population, the state government began preparation for procurement in July, much ahead of the schedule, seeking CCL and arranging gunny bags.
Also, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July urging him for early release of the CCL. The state’s top brass is also in touch with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley so there is no last minute glitch.
The Punjab government would start paddy procurement from October 1. Unlike previous five procurement seasons since 2014, when arranging the CCL for procurements gave a tough time to Akali-BJP government in Punjab, the current kharif season has come with lesser worries.
“So far, the CCL has not reached the state government, but we are expecting good news from the Reserve Bank of India any moment,” a food and civil supplies department official told HT.
“It’s a bumper crop this time. We are expecting to procure 140 to 150 lakh tonnes of paddy this season and we want fast movement of grain out of the mandis, so that there is no glut,” said an official. Punjab is expecting paddy production of 186 lakh tonne this season.
“We are receiving queries and counter queries from the Centre. On Friday, Union finance ministry sought details of grains in stocks, and we have sent the same,” said an official.
Officials say the RBI clears the CCL after a nod from the Union ministry of finance and then the RBI writes to the lead bank — the State Bank of India and consortium of banks — to release funds.
“Having set records of previous four procurements straight, things have become easier now. The RBI has told us that it is not concerned about the old accounts but wants the state to devise a system for smooth procurement,” said an official.
According to the Centre, there’s a mismatch of Rs 12,000 crore between the CCLs received in the past and the food grain handed over.