Punjab finance minister seeks national farm debt waiver scheme | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Punjab finance minister seeks national farm debt waiver scheme

Manpreet meets FM Jaitley: At the pre-budget meeting, state finance minister seeks inclusion of state in special category for border area development programme; Rs 100 crore for Jallianwala Bagh monument.

punjab Updated: Jan 19, 2018 17:17 IST
HT Correspondent
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal.
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal. (HT Photo)

Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Thursday sought an all-India farm debt waiver scheme on the pattern of Punjab, while calling for the restoration of the 90:10 funding pattern under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).

This restoration of the funding pattern will provide more avenues to the states to determine priorities in the agriculture sector.

Manpreet requested the Centre to increase the state’s net borrowing ceiling from 3% to 4% of the Gross State Domestic Product

Manpreet, who sought inclusion of Punjab under the special category for Border Area Development Programme (BADP), made these submissions while taking part in deliberations during Union finance minister Arun Jaitley’s pre-budget 2018-19 meeting with state finance ministers.

To celebrate the 550th Prakash Utsav of Guru Nanak in 2019, he requested the Centre to provide a special grant of Rs 500 crore to the state government, besides another Rs 100 crore for academic, research and museum projects.

A special grant of Rs 100 crore has been sought for improvement of the Jallianwala Bagh monument, its surroundings and observance of the centenary of the sacrifice of April 13, 1919.

Wish list from budget
  • Special Rs 500-cr grant for 550th Parkash Utsav of Guru Nanak: To celebrate the 550th Prakash Utsav of Guru Nanak in 2019, Manpreet requested the Centre for a special grant of ~500 cr to the state government
  • Special package for anti-terror Ops: The state demanded a special package for purchase of equipment to modernise police to counter anti-terrorism operations. 
  • Increase borrowing ceiling of state: Manpreet requested the Centre to increase the state’s net borrowing ceiling from 3% to 4% of the Gross State Domestic Product

Raising concerns over security along the state’s natural boundaries with Pakistan, the minister requested the Centre for a special grant to line it with studs and spurs in the rivers. He demanded a special package for purchase of equipment to modernise police to counter terrorism.

‘Devolve tax monthly, instead of quarterly’

Manpreet also urged the Union government to release the share of central taxes on account of the devolution of corporate tax and income tax on a monthly basis instead of four quarterly instalments in 2018-19. The quarterly devolution had impacted development works in states, besides increasing fiscal stress, he said.

On the RKVY, he said that increasing the fund ratio back to 90:10 from 60:40 would not only help in boosting agriculture infrastructure, farm extension activities and diversification but also in achieving the centre’s vision of doubling farm income by 2022. A special cess of 0.5% can be levied on payees having more than Rs 5 lakh annual income to create a corpus for bailing out beleaguered farmers.

‘Encourage agriculture diversification’

The minister also suggested the introduction of a New Agriculture Insurance Scheme. “To encourage agriculture diversification, a separate Sub-Mission for Livestock and Dairy Farm Mechanisation should be established to facilitate transfer of technology and acquisition of machinery and equipment by livestock and dairy farmers,” he said.

Stating that with the initiation of the GST and the introduction of the debt waiver scheme, the state’s cash flows had been hit, Manpreet requested the Centre to increase the state’s net borrowing ceiling from 3% to 4% of the Gross State Domestic Product.

He urged that consent under Article 293 (3) of the Constitution should be given to Punjab for swapping of National Social Security Fund (NSSF) loans with low-cost market borrowing, as the rate of interest on these loans was on the higher side. He also sought monthly release of GST compensation, from the bi-monthly system now. He also requested the Union government to set up a Light Combat Vehicles manufacturing unit in the state.

To strengthen the state’s rail network, he said the Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Beri railway line project in district Rupnagar and district Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh) must be expedited and the 2018-19 budget must announce a national highway from New Delhi to Katra via Amritsar.