Punjab cabinet takes up direct payment to farmers - Hindustan Times
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Punjab cabinet takes up direct payment to farmers

ByHT Correspondent
Mar 31, 2021 03:14 PM IST

State food minister seeks consensus against the Centre’s mandate to bypass commission agents and pay farmers directly as wheat harvest season kicks off

With the Centre firm on direct online payment of minimum support price (MSP) to farmers and wheat procurement to begin in April, the Punjab cabinet is meeting on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue and build consensus on its stand.

The Centre wants Punjab to directly make payment to farmers for the wheat crop by bypassing commission agents or arhtiyas, who are part of the existing procurement system. (HT file photo)
The Centre wants Punjab to directly make payment to farmers for the wheat crop by bypassing commission agents or arhtiyas, who are part of the existing procurement system. (HT file photo)

State food and civil supplies minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said: “I’ll raise the issue of the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme to farmers for the wheat crop and request all ministers to reach a consensus. What the Centre has proposed is against the state’s norms and in violation of the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act that governs the functioning of the state procurement machinery.”

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The Centre wants Punjab to make payment to farmers for the wheat crop by bypassing commission agents or arhtiyas, who are part of the existing system.

Union food minister Piyush Goyal has rejected Punjab’s plea to allow the existing system and suggested the state amend its APMC Act. “This is not possible as it will be a direct hit on the country’s federal structure,” Ashu said.

Punjab is the only state among the 12 procuring ones that is not making direct digital payment to farmers as mandated by the finance ministry’s Public Finance Management System (PFMS) order of May 28, 2018. It continues to pay farmers through arhtiyas under the Punjab Agriculture Produce Marketing Rules, 1962.

Unlike neighbouring Haryana and other states, Punjab has not integrated its land records with the central procurement portal. Goyal has now written to chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh seeking compliance and has suggested that Punjab follow Haryana’s software that enables details of tenant or sharecropper to be uploaded on the portal with a disclaimer that this would not be a legal proof for claiming ownership.

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