CAPT AMARINDER WRITES TO MODI FOR REVIEW OF 3 RECENT ORDINANCES ON FARMING SECTOR

URGES HIM TO RELOOK IN SPIRIT OF `COOPERATIVE FEDERALISM’, IN INTEREST OF FARMERS

Chandigarh, June 15: Expressing Punjab’s reservations on the amendments, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the three recently issued central government ordinances related to the farming sector, in the interest of the farmers, and taking into account the spirit of `cooperative federalism’ which the letter has always strongly championed.

Underlining the need for the Centre and States to work together to secure the collective good of the people of the country, who reside in the States, the Chief Minister has, in a letter to Modi, sought a reconsideration of the three ordinances - for permitting trade in agricultural produce outside the physical boundaries of the set-up of the agricultural market under APMC Act, easing of easing restrictions under the Essential Commodities Act, and facilitating contract farming. All three should be revisited keeping in view the concerns and the interests of the farmers, said Captain Amarinder, seeking protection of the farmers’ interests at all times.

The Chief Minister pointed out that Punjab has been at the forefront of ensuring food security for the country. The development of crop production technology for wheat and paddy as well as its dissemination, supported by the assured procurement at minimum support price (MSP) by FCI in the notified markets, has played a key role in building up buffer stocks and making the country self-reliant, he stressed The results of this policy, observed Captain Amarinder, were most visible in the recent past when the country was able to face the unprecedented crisis emanating from the Covid-19 pandemic with confidence, with no threat of hunger and food deprivation.

Further, the Chief Minister pointed that Agriculture is a subject entrusted to States by the makers of the Indian Constitution and features at entry 14 on the State List. On the other hand, Trade and Commerce feature in entry 33 of the Concurrent List, which enables both the Union and States to legislate on the subject provided the State legislation, is not repugnant to the legislation of the Union.

Referring to the specific ordinances, the Chief Minister said the Agriculture Produce Marketing System in Punjab had stood the test of time and served the State and the country well over the last 60 years. It had in fact been an important contributor to the success of the ‘Green Revolution’, he said, adding that it had helped in ensuring food security on the one hand and securing livelihoods of millions of farmers and farm workers on the other. Further, he pointed out that a well-developed infrastructure has also been created in Punjab, both for open marketing and storage of produce and seamless transportation of produce from farm-gate to mandis and godowns. The State Government is in the process of further upgrading this infrastructure to support modern farming and agri-marketing practices, he added.

However, the changes as per the Ordinance dated June 5, 2020, in the agricultural marketing system, had led to widespread apprehension among the farmers of the State that the Union Government was planning to withdraw from the assured procurement of food grains produced by them. He said that there was also another apprehension that the proposed barrier-free nation-wide markets for farmers would really come to mean a nation-wide market for traders, possibly to the detriment of the already debt-ridden and beleaguered farmers of the State. Coming as it does in the times of the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis, it will further exacerbate the socio-economic tensions among the farmers of the State, said the Chief Minister, adding that this would not at all be conducive for the peace and development of the region, which faces serious challenges of public order due to a live international border.

Drawing the Prime Minister’s attention to 'The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020', Captain Amarinder said that it permits new marketing channels outside the APMC domain and has, thus, far-reaching implications for the States, particularly Punjab. He asserted that Punjab had already amended its APMC Act, 1961 to provide for a single unified license and setting-up of private market yards for direct purchase from farmers. Further, the State APMC Act deals only with the first transaction between farmers and the buyer and does not interfere with trade in any manner.

He said that the levies/fees charged by APMCs are used for the development and management of mandis, the creation of rural marketing, and supporting infrastructure, as well as for the welfare of rural farming and non-farming communities. It is a matter of common understanding that entry 33 of the Concurrent List i.e. “trade and commerce in, and the production, supply and distribution of the products…”, is applicable only to foodstuffs such as raw cotton, jute, oilseeds, etc., which are industrial raw materials and not to food grains, fruits, and vegetables, he said, adding that there thus appears to be no rationale to infringe upon the APMC Act or for that matter, the autonomy of the States enshrined in the Constitution within the time-tested federal framework.

Further, leaving the millions of small and marginal farmers in the country, who could neither hold their produce for a long time after harvest for the market to be favourable nor had the bargaining power to best realize a remunerative price in a free market, the Chief Minister said leaving such famers at the mercy of organized trade will only increase the possibility of their exploitation by the traders.

On the easing of regulation of food-grains under the Essential Commodities Act, Captain Amarinder said it further allows the exporters, processors or traders to hold large stocks of farm produce without limits, except in certain grave situations of war, natural calamity, famine, and extra-ordinary price rise. The amendment would allow the private players to buy the produce in harvest season, when prices are generally lower, and release it later when prices firm up. He stated that in the absence of any regulation, States would also have no information about the availability of stocks of commodities within the State.

Captain Amarinder Singh further pointed out that ‘The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020’ provides for engagement of farmers with processors, exporters, and large retailers for farm services and sale of future production at a mutually agreed remunerative price. But, it largely pertains to contract farming and provision of services. As these services and contracts relate to agricultural produce, it is covered under entry 14 read along with entry 26 and 27 of the State List and cannot be treated simply as a matter of trade and commerce under entry 33 of the Concurrent List.

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PUNJAB CM WRITES TO MODI SEEKING FISCAL AID OF RS 79,460 CR & NON-FISCAL ASSISTANCE TO SAVE LIVES & SECURE LIVELIHOODS IN `NEW NORMAL’

PROPOSED PACKAGE INCLUDES RS. 26400 CR DIRECT FISCAL STIMULUS & WAIVER OF LONG-TERM CCL DEBT FOR STATE’S FISCAL RECOVERY

IN MEMORANDUM TO PM, CAPT AMARINDER ALSO SEEKS HIKE IN CAPITAL OUTLAY UNDER MGNREGA & OTHER MAJOR CENTRAL PROGRAMMES

WANTS REVAMP OF INTER-STATE MIGRANTS ACT & AMENDMENTS TO LABOUR REFORMS TO PROTECT RIGHTS & LIBERTIES OF WORKERS

CHANDIGARH, June 15

Pointing to the large-scale devastation and distress caused to the state due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister, seeking fiscal aid from the Government of India to the tune of Rs 79,460 crore, along with non-fiscal assistance on various counts, in order to save lives and secure livelihoods in the new normal.

The non-fiscal component of the aid sought by the Chief Minister includes waiver of long-term CCL debt, upward revision of capital outlay and targets under MGNREGA, and other major flagship programmes of the Union Government such as Smart City Programme, AMRUT, a new National Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme, etc, in addition to revamping of Inter-state Migrant Workers Act and amendments to Labour Reforms to ensure full protection of civil liberties and basic rights of agriculture and industrial labourers.

The Centre’s urgent intervention was needed to avert any major socio-economic upheaval in the coming future, as also to assure our next generations of safe living and security of livelihood in the country, said the Chief Minister.

In his detailed memorandum, Captain Amarinder has drawn the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the need for administrative, structural, and even statutory changes to ensure the safety and security of people in the new normal, given that the pandemic is here to stay for a long time. The new normal has also necessitated changes and repurposing in government programmes to meet the challenges of the present crisis, he added.

Realizing the need and imperatives of the new normal, the Government of Punjab has made a quick assessment of the requirements for rapid transformation that it needs to undertake in the current scenario, the Chief Minister said in his cover letter to the Prime Minister, adding that while the assessment may not be complete, “it surely indicates the multiple dimensions and magnitude of financial and economic upheaval that the states have to face and respond.”

Captain Amarinder further pointed out that “The Government of Punjab, despite all-out efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in keeping with the guidelines issued by the Government of India from time to time, feels that States alone cannot meet the new challenges, and therefore in the true spirit of cooperative federalism, needs the Union Government to aid and assist them in an unusually big way, which the country has never seen since independence in 1947.”

Listing out the detailed support measures needed to revive the state’s economy while ensuring protection of life amid the continuing pandemic spread, the Chief Minister said a direct fiscal stimulus of Rs 26,400 crore and the waiver of the long-term CCL debt was extremely necessary for the fiscal recovery of the state government. Additionally, all central schemes should be 100% funded by the Government of India in FY 2020-21, he has further requested in the memorandum.

Listing out the areas in which assistance was urgent required, the Chief Minister said improvement in the state’s public health infrastructure from a long-term perspective had been estimated at a cost of Rs 6603 crore.

Further, the State would need and estimated Rs 15,975 crore for up-gradation of farm gate infrastructure, one-time farm debt waiver, providing income support, interest subvention, etc. , Captain Amarinder said, proposing that for far debt waiver, the present agricultural borrowings of the farmers should be frozen and taken over by the Government of Indi by converting these as a long term debt to be paid to the banks in 10-15 equal instalments by the Government of India. For the future, the farmers should be given production linked credit fully reflecting upon their paying capacity. Additionally, he has sought Rs. 1,161 crore for the animal husbandry and dairy sectors.

To contain the COVID-19 contagion in the rural areas, Rs. 5,068 crore would be required for liquid and solid waste management in the villages, in addition to upward revision of capital outlay and targets under MGNREGA from Rs 767 Crore to Rs 2,413 Crore, as per the state government estimates, said the Chief Minister, adding that total fiscal assistance of Rs.6,714 Crore was required for this sector.

For Housing and Urban Affairs, Captain Amarinder has proposed a National Urban Employment Guarantee Act (NUEGA), to guarantee employment in urban areas, or which an annual outlay of Rs. 3,200 crore would be required. He has also solicited additional capital outlay of Rs 6,670 crore under Schemes like AMRUT, Smart City, PMAY etc., with certain relaxations, along with a grant of Rs. 1,137 crore on account of revenue loss is solicited.

To meet the post-Covid online and other educational needs of, the state has sought assistance of Rs. 3,080 crore, with another Rs 8 crore for online training and stipend at Rs 1000 per month for students during the lockdown period.

A total financial assistance of Rs. 575 crore would be required to boost the new and renewable energy sector in Punjab, in addition to certain policy interventions, the Chief Minister pointed out.

Further, financial assistance of Rs 2,571 crore has been solicited for Border Area Development in an integrated manner, with acquisition of farm land beyond the border fencing or adequate compensation to farmers for frequent disruptions in those areas.

To allow the transport sector to provide the services while maintaining social distance norms and other precautionary measures, a total fiscal stimulus of ₹326 Crore would be required, as per the memorandum, which has also estimated Rs 5040 crore as total fiscal stimulus need for the welfare of migrant labourers. In addition, the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act should be revamped to safeguard interest and basic rights of these workers, said the Chief Minister.

Also, trade, business and Industry, specifically MSMEs, need strong support from the Government of India, including interest waiver, broader ESI/ EPF contribution, higher interest subvention and expeditious GST refunds, the Chief Minister has underlined in the memorandum. Similarly, the Power sector needs several policy interventions by the Government of India, he stressed, adding that labour process reforms would be required to facilitate quicker recovery of the industrial sector without causing damage to civil liberties and basic rights of the workers.

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PUNJAB CM WRITES TO MODI SEEKING FISCAL AID OF RS 80,845 CR & NON-FISCAL ASSISTANCE TO SAVE LIVES & SECURE LIVELIHOODS IN `NEW NORMAL’

PROPOSED PACKAGE INCLUDES RS. 26400 CR DIRECT FISCAL STIMULUS & WAIVER OF LONG-TERM CCL DEBT FOR STATE’S FISCAL RECOVERY

IN MEMORANDUM TO PM, CAPT AMARINDER ALSO SEEKS HIKE IN CAPITAL OUTLAY UNDER MGNREGA & OTHER MAJOR CENTRAL PROGRAMMES

WANTS REVAMP OF INTER-STATE MIGRANTS ACT & AMENDMENTS TO LABOUR REFORMS TO PROTECT RIGHTS & LIBERTIES OF WORKERS

CHANDIGARH, June 15-Pointing to the large-scale devastation and distress caused to the state due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister, seeking fiscal aid from the Government of India to the tune of Rs 80,845 crore, along with non-fiscal assistance on various counts, in order to save lives and secure livelihoods in the new normal.

The non-fiscal component of the aid sought by the Chief Minister includes waiver of long-term CCL debt, upward revision of capital outlay and targets under MGNREGA, and other major flagship programmes of the Union Government such as Smart City Programme, AMRUT, a new National Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme, etc, in addition to revamping of Inter-state Migrant Workers Act and amendments to Labour Reforms to ensure full protection of civil liberties and basic rights of agriculture and industrial labourers.

The Centre’s urgent intervention was needed to avert any major socio-economic upheaval in the coming future, as also to assure our next generations of safe living and security of livelihood in the country, said the Chief Minister.

In his detailed memorandum, Captain Amarinder has drawn the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the need for administrative, structural, and even statutory changes to ensure the safety and security of people in the new normal, given that the pandemic is here to stay for a long time. The new normal has also necessitated changes and repurposing in government programmes to meet the challenges of the present crisis, he added.

Realizing the need and imperatives of the new normal, the Government of Punjab has made a quick assessment of the requirements for rapid transformation that it needs to undertake in the current scenario, the Chief Minister said in his cover letter to the Prime Minister, adding that while the assessment may not be complete, “it surely indicates the multiple dimensions and magnitude of financial and economic upheaval that the states have to face and respond.”

Captain Amarinder further pointed out that “The Government of Punjab, despite all-out efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in keeping with the guidelines issued by the Government of India from time to time, feels that States alone cannot meet the new challenges, and therefore in the true spirit of cooperative federalism, needs the Union Government to aid and assist them in an unusually big way, which the country has never seen since independence in 1947.”

Listing out the detailed support measures needed to revive the state’s economy while ensuring protection of life amid the continuing pandemic spread, the Chief Minister said a direct fiscal stimulus of Rs 26,400 crore and the waiver of the long-term CCL debt was extremely necessary for the fiscal recovery of the state government. Additionally, all central schemes should be 100% funded by the Government of India in FY 2020-21, he has further requested in the memorandum.

Listing out the areas in which assistance was urgent required, the Chief Minister said improvement in the state’s public health infrastructure from a long-term perspective had been estimated at a cost of Rs 6603 crore.

Further, the State would need and estimated Rs 15,975 crore for up-gradation of farm gate infrastructure, one-time farm debt waiver, providing income support, interest subvention, etc. , Captain Amarinder said, proposing that for far debt waiver, the present agricultural borrowings of the farmers should be frozen and taken over by the Government of Indi by converting these as a long term debt to be paid to the banks in 10-15 equal instalments by the Government of India. For the future, the farmers should be given production linked credit fully reflecting upon their paying capacity. Additionally, he has sought Rs. 1,161 crore for the animal husbandry and dairy sectors.

To contain the COVID-19 contagion in the rural areas, Rs. 5,068 crore would be required for liquid and solid waste management in the villages, in addition to upward revision of capital outlay and targets under MGNREGA from Rs 767 Crore to Rs 2,413 Crore, as per the state government estimates, said the Chief Minister, adding that total fiscal assistance of Rs.6,714 Crore was required for this sector.

For Housing and Urban Affairs, Captain Amarinder has proposed a National Urban Employment Guarantee Act (NUEGA), to guarantee employment in urban areas, or which an annual outlay of Rs. 3,200 crore would be required. He has also solicited additional capital outlay of Rs 6,670 crore under Schemes like AMRUT, Smart City, PMAY etc., with certain relaxations, along with a grant of Rs. 1,137 crore on account of revenue loss is solicited.

To meet the post-Covid online and other educational needs of, the state has sought assistance of Rs. 3,080 crore, with another Rs 8 crore for online training and stipend at Rs 1000 per month for students during the lockdown period.

A total financial assistance of Rs. 575 crore would be required to boost the new and renewable energy sector in Punjab, in addition to certain policy interventions, the Chief Minister pointed out.

Further, financial assistance of Rs 2,571 crore has been solicited for Border Area Development in an integrated manner, with acquisition of farm land beyond the border fencing or adequate compensation to farmers for frequent disruptions in those areas.

To allow the transport sector to provide the services while maintaining social distance norms and other precautionary measures, a total fiscal stimulus of ₹326 Crore would be required, as per the memorandum, which has also estimated Rs 5040 crore as total fiscal stimulus need for the welfare of migrant labourers. In addition, the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act should be revamped to safeguard interest and basic rights of these workers, said the Chief Minister.

Also, trade, business and Industry, specifically MSMEs, need strong support from the Government of India, including interest waiver, broader ESI/ EPF contribution, higher interest subvention and expeditious GST refunds, the Chief Minister has underlined in the memorandum. Similarly, the Power sector needs several policy interventions by the Government of India, he stressed, adding that labour process reforms would be required to facilitate quicker recovery of the industrial sector without causing damage to civil liberties and basic rights of the workers.

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Singla hands over appointment letters to 56 newly-appointed employees in PWD and Education Department.