The Punjab government will raise the issue of FCI’s declining share in foodgrain procurement from the state with the Centre, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said. Expressing concern over the “gradual withdrawal” of the central procurement agency in foodgrain purchase from the state, Singh said he would ask the Union Food Minister to increase the share of Food Corporation of India (FCI) in the state procurement.
The procurement has declined from 30.69 per cent to 12 per cent in the last 20 years, he noted. A decision in this regard was taken in a meeting chaired by the chief minister to review the procurement arrangements for the forthcoming Rabi season.
In the last ten years, the FCI had been pulling back at the last minute from procuring even the agreed upon quota in the session’s beginning, an official release said.
The FCI being the primary central agency mandated to ensure foodstocks in 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, thereby burdening the state.
The last-minute refusal by the FCI to not procure its earlier decided share always puts additional burden on the state’s finances, the CM claimed.
He also gave in-principle approval to withdraw four state procurement agencies – Markfed, Punsup, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation and Punjab State Agro Industries (PAIC) – from procurement related operations in a phased manner, beginning with PAIC.
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 he would be writing to the Union Finance minister and the Union Food minister for a joint meeting with a view to seeking early redressal of long pending food procurement issues.
Despite Punjab being forced to take over the “colossal” Rs 31,000 crore Cash Credit Limit gap as term loan, the structural issues with the Centre remain unresolved, he said.
The CM asked the food secretary to impress upon the Centre to hasten the process of grainstock movement to create more space for wheat storage during the ensuing rabi marketing season (RMS) 2019-20.
Expressing concern over the financial loss suffered by the state on account of spoilage, he also asked the department to undertake effective steps for scientific storage of foodgrains.
The state expects to procure 130 lakh metric tonne (LMT) of wheat during the RMS 2019-20, out of which state procurement agencies will procure 104 LMTs wheat, the release said.