Never backed Centre’s farm-related ordinances: Punjab Chief Minister

Economy


Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday rejected the Centre’s claim that the state was taken on board before the promulgation of farm-related ordinances presented in Parliament. Singh said this reacting to a statement of Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Raosaheb Patil Danve in Parliament.

The Union minister had said a high-powered committee on agriculture had decided on the ordinances after due consideration by all member states.

The CM said at no point did Punjab endorse any such move.

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He asserted that his government has been consistently opposing the “so-called reforms” brought in by the ordinances.

In fact, the ordinances were not discussed even once at the sole meeting of the committee held after Punjab was made a member, he said in a statement.

Saying that Punjab was “initially excluded” from the committee set up by the Union government in July 2019, the CM said it was only after the state government protested that it was included in August 2019.

By that time, the committee had already held its first meeting, he said in the government release here.

At the second meeting on August 16, 2019, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had represented Punjab and only certain fiscal issues related to agriculture were discussed, he said.

The ordinances or their provisions did not come up at all for discussion at that meeting, according to Manpreet Badal, the CM said.

Subsequently, a meeting of the agriculture secretaries of the member states was held on September 3, 2019, at which Punjab had taken a strong stand against any dilution of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act, the CM claimed.

Amarinder Singh said the draft report of the committee was circulated for comments and Punjab had again made its stand clear, opposing any move to dilute farmer-friendly laws.

But the Centre chose to promulgate the ordinances in June this year, he asserted.

The “clandestine manner” in which these were introduced clearly showed that the Centre had no intention of protecting interests of farmers but was bent on implementing the report of the Shanta Kumar committee, which had recommended the gradual withdrawal of the MSP and dismantling of the FCI, alleged the CM.

The Centre on Monday introduced three Bills in the Lok Sabha.

These were the Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill; Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.

The CM said he will lead an 11-member delegation of his party on Wednesday to submit a memorandum to the governor against the legislations.

The CM also wrote to PM Narendra Modi, requesting him not to pursue the ordinances and make the minimum support price a statutory right of farmers.



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