Centre to resolve Punjab's Rs 31000 crore food account loan

Last Updated: Thu, Jun 27, 2019 21:05 hrs
India's Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan speaks during an interview with Reuters in New Delhi

New Delhi: Union Minister of Consumer Affairs Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday acceded to the request of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to hold a joint meeting with the Union Finance Minister to resolve the Rs 31,000 crore food account loan legacy issue.

Paswan agreed to organise the meeting after the Budget session, an official spokesperson for the state government said.

The Union Minister has also agreed to allow Punjab to create additional storage space to enable the state to address the problem of acute shortage of storage space in this Rabi season.

Modalities will soon be worked out, said the spokesperson.

Amarinder Singh also succeeded in securing relaxation in lustre-loss in wheat, resulting from the unseasonal heavy rains that lashed the state during the season.

During his meeting, the Chief Minister pointed out the Rs 31,000-crore food loan legacy issue, inherited from the previous government, had already been referred to a special committee headed by Member NITI Aayog Ramesh Chand, who is also the Member of 15th Finance Commission.

With regard to lustre-loss, Amarinder Singh said the Centre had allowed relaxation only in for nine districts with effect from May 8, by when bulk of the purchase had been completed in the state.

The state had sought relaxation for the entire quantity of wheat purchased during the season across the state, and should be given relaxation from April 26, when it first sought FCI inspection.

Expressing concern over slow movement of stocks, the Chief Minister told Paswan that the state was grappling with acute shortage of storage space for foodgrain.

He mentioned that state agencies were currently stocking 160 lakh tonnes of wheat and 107 lakh tonnes of rice, while 96 lakh tonnes of wheat was lying in the open.

A total of 10.5 lakh tonnes of wheat purchased more than a year ago was still being stocked in the open. As a result of slow movement of food grains from the state, the state would face a major challenge for scientific storage of wheat next year, he added.