Expressing serious concern over the threat to the state’s agriculture as a result of the ‘disruption caused by the three new farm laws’, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure urgent resolution of the ongoing farm unrest by the Centre “to the satisfaction of the protesting farmers by addressing all their grievances.”
Calling for the fullest respect for farmers, the CM, through his speech, submitted for the virtual meeting of the Niti Aayog, reiterated his government’s stand that agriculture is a state subject and law-making on it should be left to the states in the true spirit of “cooperative federalism” enshrined in the Constitution.
In this context, he pointed to the state amendments already passed to the central legislations by the Punjab Assembly in October 2020. Amarinder could not attend the meeting as he was indisposed.
The CM asserted, in his speech, that any reform that is sought to be introduced in a sector subsuming almost 60 per cent of the country’s workforce must be done only through a process of extensive consultation with all the stakeholders, of which Punjab is a key stakeholder, being at the forefront of ensuring food security for the country.
Citing strong apprehension among farmers of the state that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) based procurement regime through Food Corporation of India (or agencies on its behalf), introduced as part of food security measures in the 1960s, may be discontinued in view of the Shanta Kumar Committee Report of 2015, the CM also stressed the need for the government if India to decisively dispel any such impression “to instill proper confidence in the farmers of the state.”
Amarinder also requested the central government to release the pending amount of goods and services tax (GST) compensation to the State, amounting to Rs 8253 Crore for the period April 2020 to January 2021.
The CM further reiterated the state’s demand for releasing the GST Compensation on monthly basis in the coming fiscal year, and sought extension in the period of GST Compensation beyond the current five years for states like Punjab, which have permanently lost a significant portion of their revenue especially on account of subsuming of Purchase Tax on food grains and are staring at a huge revenue shortfall after the end of compensation period.