Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal, on Saturday, March 27, asked the Punjab government to implement the Centre's guidelines of ensuring e-payment of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) directly into farmers' accounts from the upcoming Rabi season.
In a letter to chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the Union minister asked the Punjab government to streamline their payment procedure in line with the Centre's guidelines.
"In the interest of farmers, the central government has been requesting the Punjab government to streamline their procurement and payment procedure in line with Centre's guidelines of direct online payment to farmers and compliance of Public Finance Management System (PFMS), since 2018," Goyal wrote.
He further stated that the state government has repeatedly sought extensions on the timelines, and despite being given adequate time, Punjab has not implemented the guidelines which are being followed by the majority of the state.
On March 4, the Union Food Ministry, in a letter, had asked the state government to implement the online payment directly into the farmer's account and comply with the PFMS, The Indian Express reported.
In Punjab, the payments are still given through the commission agents (Arthiyas) under the Punjab Agriculture Produce Marketing Rules-1962.
However, Punjab Food Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said that the state was opposed to the Centre's direct online payment scheme. "Our chief minister has made his stand very clear. We will go by what our state's Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act says," Ashu said.
The minister said he had sought an appointment with Goyal several times and also sought a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but he did not receive any response. "At least, ask the CM about the problem. This kind of stubbornness would not lead them anywhere."
Last week, CM Amarinder Singh had written to the Prime Minister, expressing his opposition to the Direct Bank Transfer scheme and questioned the need for such change in the system. Singh said that 'Arhtiyas' were the licensees under the APMC Act and that there have been no complaints by farmers over non-receipt of MSP payments from them.
He also urged the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food Public Distribution, to postpone the scheme's implementation for at least a year.