New Delhi, Jan 18 (PTI) Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal today advocated for an all-India farm debt waiver scheme on the pattern of Punjab.
Participating in the pre-budget meeting of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with state counterparts here today, Badal also called for restoration of the 90:10 funding pattern under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) to provide more avenues to states to determine priorities in the agri sector.
He also demanded inclusion of Punjab under the special category for Border Area Development Programme.
Badal stressed the need for close coordination between the Centre and the states.
To celebrate the 550th Prakash Utsav of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Badal requested the Centre to provide a special grant of Rs 500 crore to the Punjab government.
In addition, he sought another Rs 100 crore for academic, research and museum projects for observing the 550th Year celebrations in a most befitting manner, he said.
Noting that the nation will observe the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh sacrifice, that took place on April 13, 1919 (on Baisakhi Day), in 2019, he requested that a special grant of Rs 100 crore be sanctioned to the state for improvement of the monument, its surrounding environs and observance of the event in a befitting manner.
Raising concerns over the state’s natural boundaries with Pakistan, the minister urged that the Government of India should provide a special grant to line by studs and spurs in the rivers forming natural countries.
To combat terror activities, the minister demanded a special package for purchase of equipment to modernise the police to counter anti-terrorism operations efficaciously.
Advocating the need to make states financially more strong, Manpreet Badal said the Centre should release the share of central taxes on account of tax devolution of corporate tax and income tax on a monthly basis instead of 4 quarterly installments in 2018-19, to avert severe impact on development works in states, besides increasing fiscal stress.
Badal said increasing the RKVY 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 central government’s vision of doubling farm income by 2022.
A special cess of 0.5 per cent can be levied on payees having more than Rs 5 lakh annual income with a view to creating a corpus for bailing out beleaguered farmers/farm suicides besides soil rejuvenation and tackling the issue of ground water depletion, he suggested.
On the issue of farm debt waiver, the Punjab finance minister told the meeting that Punjab had taken the initiative to announce a loan waiver scheme to the extent of Rs 2 lakh for all the marginal and small debt-stressed farmers of the state.
This covers more than 60 per cent of the state’s farming community and will benefit almost 10 lakh farmers with a financial outlay of approximately Rs 9,500 crore.
Badal further suggested the inclusion of all aspects of rural economy like farmer incomes and farm productivity by the 15th Finance Commission in its recommendations. He informed the meeting that the state government was keen to embark on a comprehensive Agriculture Transformation Project in Punjab at an estimated cost of Rs 1,750 crore.
He urged the Government of India to provide assistance over a period of 3 years for providing a special push to agriculture in Punjab.
Raising the demand to cover Border Area Development Programme (BADP) under special category, the minister informed that since 2016-17, this programme had been converted to 60:40 between the Centre and the non-special category states. For the special category states, the ratio was 90:10.
Seeking grant to establish a National Horticulture University at Abohar, Badal said that a one-time special grant should be given in this regard besides one-time grant to support Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.
With the initiation of GST and introduction of debt waiver scheme, the state’s cash flows had been affected, Badal said, adding the Centre should increase the state’s net borrowing ceiling from 3 per cent to 4 per cent of GSDP to enable the government to meet its committed liability during the current and next fiscal year.
The minister also urged the Centre to announce a National Highway from New Delhi to Katra via Amritsar in the coming Budget 2018.
Seeking resumption of Shahpurkandi Dam Project Administration, the minister requested the Union government to approve the Revised Cost Estimate of the Project at the earliest in view of its national importance.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.