RBI’s Rs.17,523 crore credit limit for wheat procurement: Punjab

Chandigarh, April 20 (IANS) The Punjab government on Wednesday said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had authorised it a Cash Credit Limit (CCL) of Rs.17,523 crore for wheat procurement.

“The RBI today (Wednesday) issued authorisation of CCL of Rs.17,523 crore to the Punjab government as first instalment for the procurement of 90 lakh tonnes of wheat in the current rabi season, a spokesman of the chief minister’s office said here.

The government was on the backfoot as the RBI refused to release the CCL of over Rs.20,000 crore after huge gap in procurement of foodgrain and actual stocks available in the state were pointed out.

“The RBI will issue another authorisation for the second instalment of CCL shortly,” the spokesman said.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, along with Food and Civil Supplies Minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday to urge him for the immediate clearance of CCL.

Pointing out to a “massive” gap in the money spent on procurement of food grain and the actual stocks lying in Punjab, the RBI recently stopped CCL release to the state.

This gap happened mainly during the rule of Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance government, in power in Punjab since 2007.

Opposition parties have said the scam money ranged from Rs.12,000 crore to Rs.20,000 crore and have demanded a high-level probe.

Congress leaders on Wednesday filed a complaint with the state vigilance bureau to demand registration of a case against functionaries of the Punjab government who were responsible for the gap in stocks.

The CCL money is used to pay farmers for the crops the government agencies procure twice annually — wheat in April-May and paddy in October-November. Wheat procurement in Punjab started on April 1.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal termed the RBI nod for CCL as a “strong vindication of the stand of the SAD-BJP alliance that not a single grain of wheat is missing from the stocks”.

–IANS

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