Third-party audit underway into Rs 31,000-crore crop credit mess by SAD-BJP regime: Manpreet
Reacting to the demand in the Vidhan Sabha, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the government has already started a third-party audit.punjab Updated: Jun 23, 2017 20:07 IST
Congress MLAs on Thursday sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the cash credit limit (CCL) “mess-up” by the SAD-BJP regime that led to a “burden” of Rs 31,000 crore on the Punjab government. Reacting to the demand in the Vidhan Sabha, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the government has already started a third-party audit.
He promised to hold responsible “all those behind the mess”, while concluding the discussion on the budget, which was later passed by the House. He also declared, “I am hopeful Punjab will give a surplus budget within four years,” getting loud applaud from the treasury benches on a day otherwise marked by rowdy scenes, tossing of turbans and rare opposition unity.
As for the mess-up, here’s what it is. On March 10, a day before the assembly poll results, the SAD-BJP government signed an agreement with the Union ministry of finance to convert Rs 31,000 crore. This amount was the gap detected between the money (CCL) taken from the Centre, and the grain stocks actually procured by state agencies since 2004. This detection in 2014 also led to difficulties in securing CCL for procurement of wheat and paddy later.
“What was the hurry? The previous government signed the agreement on the last day of its term. The parties in power should have waited for a day or have contested their case with the Centre. Where has the money gone? We need to know,” Manpreet said.
With conversion of that money into a loan, “the Akali-BJP government put shackles on the future generation, because every month the government is required to pay back Rs 270 crore; every year Rs 3,240 crore for 20 years!”
Earlier, MLAs Kuljit Singh Nagra, Amit Vij and Angad Saini demanded a CBI probe. For now, the audit is being done by the private consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Manpreet also mentioned that the SAD-BJP had left behind pending bills of Rs 1,743 crore for the atta-dal (food subsidy) scheme, and caused Rs 13,039 crore worth of other bills to lapse”.
SILOS UNDER SCANNER
The FM also announced to put steel silos of the capacity of 15 lakh tonnes each built during the previous government under scanner. “We will probe how and why the work was given to Pungrain, taking it out of the purview of Punjab Warehousing Corporation. Now most of these silos are empty, and government is paying hundreds of crores as rent,” said Manpreet.
Probe into sports kits
Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh promised a probe into alleged irregularities in distribution of sports kits to youth clubs by the previous regime. The assurance came in the Vidhan Sabha in response to a question raised by MLA Rajinder Beri during Question Hour.