DW BUREAU / new delhi
Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Thursday sought an all India farm debt waiver scheme on the pattern of Punjab, while calling for restoration of the 90:10 funding pattern under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) to provide more avenues to the states to determine priorities in agriculture sector.
Taking part in the deliberations during Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s pre-budget 2018-19 meeting with state finance ministers here, Badal also sought inclusion of Punjab under the special category for Border Area Development Programme.
He stressed on the need for close coordination between the Centre and the states.
To celebrate the 550th Prakash Utsav of Sri Guru Nanak Dev, the finance minister requested the central government to provide a special grant of Rs 500 crores to the state government .
In addition, he demanded that another Rs 100 crore should be provided for academic, research and museum projects for observing the event in a most befitting manner.
Noting that the nation will observe the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh sacrifice, that took place on April 13, 1919 (on Baisakhi Day), in 2019, he requested that a special grant of Rs 100 crore may be sanctioned to the state government for improvement of the monument, its surrounding environs and observance of the event in a befitting manner.
Raising concerns over the state’s natural boundaries with Pakistan, the Minister urged that Centre should provide a special grant to line by studs and spurs in the rivers forming natural countries. To combat terror activities, he demanded a special package for purchase of equipment to modernize the police to counter anti-terrorism operations efficaciously.
Advocating the need to make states financially more strong, Badal said that union government should release the share of central taxes on account of tax devolution of corporate tax and income tax on a monthly basis instead of 4 quarterly installments in 2018-19, to avert severe impact on development works in states, besides increasing fiscal stress.
He said increasing the RKVY ratio back to 90:10 from 60:40 would not only help in boosting agriculture infrastructure, farm extension activities and diversification but also in achieving central government’s vision of doubling farm income by 2022.
A special cess of 0.5 per cent can be levied on payees having more than Rs five lakh annual income with a view to creating a corpus for bailing out beleaguered farmers/farm suicides besides soil rejuvenation and tackling the issue of ground water depletion, he suggested.
On the issue of farm debt waiver, the Minister told the meeting that the Punjab government had taken the initiative to announce a loan waiver scheme to the extent of Rs two lakhs for all the marginal and small debt-stressed farmers of the state. This covers more than 60 per cent of the State’s farming community and will benefit almost 10 lakh farmers with a financial outlay of approximately Rs 9,500 crore.