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Amarinder concerned at FCI withdrawal from food grain procurement

January 22, 2019 05:42 PM

CHANDIGARH: Expressing concern over the Food Corporation of India's gradual withdrawal from procurement of food grains in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has decided to raise the issue with the Centre and seek increase in the Central agency's procurement share.

The Chief Minister said this on Tuesday while chairing a meeting to review the procurement arrangements for the forthcoming Rabi season. Amarinder said he would ask the Union Food Minister to increase the share of FCI in state procurement.

He pointed out that the FCI share had declined from 30.69 per cent to a mere 12 per cent in the last 20 years.

"In the last 10 years, FCI had been pulling back at the last minute from procuring even the quota decided at the start of the season, " said the chief minister.

FCI, being the primary Central agency mandated to ensure food grain stocks for the nation, should remain actively involved in the food procurement process, Amarinder said.

"The gradual decline in FCI's share adversely impacts the financial position of the whole procurement process, burdening Punjab. The last-minute refusal by FCI to not procure its earlier decided share always puts additional burden on the state's finances, " he added.

In the meeting, the Chief Minister gave in-principle approval to withdraw four state procurement agencies - Marfed (Punjab State Co-op Supply & Marketing Federation), PUNSUP (Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation), PSWC (Punjab State Warehousing Corporation) and Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC), from procurement related operations in a phased manner.

"The move is aimed at enabling these state procurement agencies to solely focus on their original mandate of promoting agro based products and cooperative movements, " Amarinder said.

Pointing out the fact that despite the state being forced to take over the colossal Rs 31, 000 crore Cash Credit Limit (CCL) gap as term loan, the structural issues between the state and the Centre remain unresolved, the chief minister said, adding he would request the Modi government to resolve all pending issues.

Lauding the state Food Department for ensuring four back-to-back seamless procurement operations since the the present government took over, Amarinder Singh asked the Food Secretary to impress upon the Centre to hasten the process of grain-stock movement to create more space for the storage of wheat during the ensuing procurement season.

Punjab is expecting to procure 130 lakh tonnes of wheat during 2019-20, out of which state procurement agencies will procure 104 lakh tonnes wheat.

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