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Thursday, Oct 24, 2019

Policy paralysis rife, Punjab govt merely managing daily affairs: Economists

Sorry state of affairs: Focus of government has shifted from development to law and order.

punjab Updated: Sep 15, 2017 09:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
(From right) Farm economist SS Johl, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal and others during a seminar on agribusiness potential of the state in Chandigarh on Thursday.
(From right) Farm economist SS Johl, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal and others during a seminar on agribusiness potential of the state in Chandigarh on Thursday.(HT Photo)

Economists from Punjab on Thursday said there was an endemic policy paralysis in the state and the government was merely managing its day-to-day affairs.

The economists held discussions on the first day of a two-day national seminar on ‘Agribusiness potential of Punjab state’ at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh. Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal was the chief guest on the occasion.

Punjab can be a leader in agribusiness: FM
  • Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal said the state has a huge consumer potential and assured adequate raw material for the processing industry. The minister said after the Goods and Service (GST) rollout, the state has rationalised tax structure and can offer a good ecosystem in terms of logistics with abolition of truck unions.
  • “Punjab is one of largest growers of potatoes, honey, milk, litchi and guava. We are only second in production of wheat and lead in egg production. We contribute 35% rice to the country’s total production,” he said. He said Punjab is an ideal state for agribusiness since it has best roads, digital connectivity and 40% of country’s storage capacity.
  • “The state it is a gateway to Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The entire North India, which consumes 25% of national consumption, is within our reach,” he said, inviting the processing industry to Punjab. He said the state government was working to assure procurement of maize in the upcoming kharif season and will seek permission from the Centre for producing ethanol

Former CRRID director general Sucha Singh Gill (now a professor in the same body) while answering queries from the delegates said the state has been an agrarian economy since the green revolution took off 50 years ago but there’s no agricultural policy.

RS Ghuman, also a CRRID professor, said a move was initiated in 2013 to finalise an agriculture policy for Punjab for which meetings were held and suggestions were taken from experts but it (the policy) never saw the light of day.

Punjab State Farmers Commission chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar said the commission was working on the policy and would table it within two months.

“Politicians who run the government don’t know many things. The academicians need to educate them. The academicians should get involved in research and hold discussions more often. It is alarming that the existing policies are not implemented,” Sucha Singh Gill said.

He also asked the Punjab government to make the state planning board functional and set up the chief minister’s advisory committee comprising experts and academicians from different fields to seek suggestions on the state’s policies and finances. “There’s no consultation with farmers and kisan unions who are key stakeholders in an agrarian economy like Punjab,” he said.

Referring to the announcement of debt waiver for farmers, Lakhwinder Singh, a professor from the economics department of Punjabi University, Patiala, said the government was not fulfilling its promises and was dilly-dallying on it.

Strengthen marketing before processing: Johl

Eminent economist Sardara Singh Johl suggested that there was a need to strengthen marketing resources before processing fruits, vegetable and other consumables. “Let us first generate the demand in the market and then start processing these items. We have a tremendous scope for agri-processing in Punjab but we have to channelise it,” he said.

‘Punjab’s Fasal Bima Yojana this year’

State agriculture commissioner Balwinder Singh Sidhu said the Punjab government will roll out an insurance policy for the farmers within a few months. “We are making a policy that suits the state farmers and not the insurance companies,” he said.

A speaker quoting figures of the last financial year for the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, said the central and state governments paid Rs 17,000 crore as premium to insurance companies but the payout (compensation) to farmers was just Rs 4,200 crore.

First Published: Sep 15, 2017 09:32 IST

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