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Ensure e-payment of MSP directly into farmers’ accounts: Piyush Goyal to Amarinder Singh

“The state government has time and again sought extension on these timelines…” and despite being given sufficient time to comply with the guidelines, the “state has not implemented these provisions so far”, Goyal wrote in his March 27 letter.

UNION FOOD Minister Piyush Goyal has asked the Punjab government to implement the Centre’s guidelines to ensure e-payment of the minimum support price (MSP) directly into farmers’ accounts from the upcoming rabi marketing season beginning April 1.

In a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Goyal said, “In the interest of farmers, GOI has been requesting the state government of Punjab to streamline their procurement and payment procedure in line with GOI guidelines of direct online payment to farmers and compliance of Public Finance Management System (PFMS), since 2018.”

“The state government has time and again sought extension on these timelines…” and despite being given sufficient time to comply with the guidelines, the “state has not implemented these provisions so far”, Goyal wrote in his March 27 letter.

This came days after the Food Ministry’s March 4 letter, in which it asked the state government to “implement online payment directly into farmer’s account and compliance of PFMS” with effect from the upcoming rabi marketing season. “These guidelines are being followed by majority of states except Punjab wherein MSP payments are still being paid through Arhtiyas [commission agents],” it wrote in the letter.

Punjab Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, however, said the state was opposed to the Centre’s scheme to make direct online payment, bypassing Arhtiyas. “Our chief minister has made his stand very clear. We will go by what our state’s APMC Act says,” he said.

Ashu said he had sought an appointment with Goyal a number of times in vain. “I have written 20 mails seeking a meeting with him…. But he is not willing to meet the minister of a state who wants to explain the situation,” he said. He said the chief minister had also sought a meeting with the Prime Minister on the issue but he too was not available. “At least, ask the CM about the problem. This kind of stubbornness would not lead them anywhere.”

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