Take up RDF issue with PM, President, Punjab CM Mann urges governor
Says Centre stopped the RDF from kharif marketing season 2021-22 despite the state having made amendment in the PRDA-1987
Chief minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday sought governor Banwari Lal Purohit’s intervention for release of stalled Rural Development Fund (RDF) and other accruals to the tune of ₹5,637.4 crore with the President of India and Prime Minister.
In a communique to the governor, Mann recalled that Punjab is a major contributor of food grains to the Central pool to ensure food security of the nation for which the procurement of food grains is made by the state government for and on behalf of the Centre and all food grains procured under the Central pool are handed over to the Centre as per their requirement. “As such, the state government through its agencies is acting as an agent of the Centre,” the CM told the governor.
The chief minister said as a principle, all procurement costs incurred on procurement of food grains are to be reimbursed by the Centre’s food and public distribution department. Mann asked the governor to take up the matter with the President and Prime Minister so that the due amount can be released at the earliest.
‘State submitted all clarification sought by dept’
“In the provisional cost sheet of kharif marketing season of 2020-21, the Centre did not reimburse RDF for want of some clarification,” he wrote in the letter, adding that after discussions, the state submitted all clarification sought by the department, and also amended the Punjab Rural Development Act (PRDA), 1987, as per Centre’s directions and the Food Corporation of India, a subsidiary of the Government of India that drives nation’s public distribution system.
The chief minister said though the withheld amount of RDF up to the rabi marketing season 2021-22 was released, the Centre stopped the RDF from kharif marketing season 2021-22 onwards despite of the state having made amendment in the PRDA-1987.
According to Mann, the RDF charged by Punjab at rate of 3% of the total procurement paid to the farmers as per the minimum support price (MSP) is payable to the Punjab Rural Development Board as per Section 7 of the Act of 1987.
‘Cut in market development fee resulted in loss of ₹440 crore’
The chief minister said all expenditures are made as per the provisions of the PRDA-1987 and all heads of expenditures are for rural, agricultural and related issues. He said these ultimately affect the agricultural growth and facilitate the farmers in increasing their livelihood which leads to increase in efficiency of procurement centres. Mann further said the Centre, while issuing provisional cost sheet for rabi marketing season 2022-23 has allowed market development fee at rate of 2% and retained 1%, causing a loss of ₹175 crore.
Mann further said the Centre, while issuing a provisional cost sheet for wheat season 2023-24, has reduced the market development fee from 3% to 2%. He said this has resulted into an additional loss of ₹265 crore making it a total loss of ₹440 crore to the state for these two seasons. Mann said the non-release of these levies at this stage is adversely affecting the rural infrastructure and economy.
“The Mandi Board and the Rural Development Board are not able to repay the loans raised for development of rural infrastructure in the past.” He said the matter has already been taken up many times with the Centre even at the level of the Prime Minister. “However, an amount of RDF worth ₹5,637.4 crore has not yet been released by the Centre,” he asserted.