08.08.2022: Punjab to seek extension of GST compensation

With Punjab reeling under debt, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is likely to seek an extension of GST compensation regime during the seventh governing council meet of NITI Aayog on Sunday. The meeting, the first in person after the Covid pandemic, will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Punjab government has decided to take up the issues of GST compensation, exclusion of state from the MSP committee, crop diversification, model schools, and civic amenities in the meeting.

Punjab has been getting Rs 16,000 crore from Centre as GST compensation every year. With the GST regime coming to an end in June, Punjab will receive a compensation of Rs 4,000 crore for the first quarter. It will be difficult for the state to sustain without the compensation. Sources in the government said that the CM would seek that the compensation regime should be extended.

The government has already rolled out doles like free power and subsidised power. Its power subsidy bill alone may cross Rs 19,000 crore this fiscal.

With their being no official notification on ending the GDT compensation, the Punjab government hopes that it has a window to press upon the Centre.

As the governing council meeting would deliberate on agriculture, education and economy, Punjab government, it is learnt, is preparing to express condemnation for the Centre not giving representation to Punjab in the MSP panel, set up after the withdrawal of farm laws. The CM has already slammed the Centre for not making Punjab part of the panel. Mann had tweeted, “Punjab’s farmers are already stuck in crop cycle and debt. MSP is our legal right… The Centre should ensure representation of Punjab in the MSP committee,” he had earlier said.

The Centre had formed a committee on MSP to look into ways to make MSP available to farmers by making the system more effective and transparent. Besides MSP, the committee will look into ways to promote natural farming, crop diversification, and micro-irrigation schemes.

Among others, senior members of agricultural universities, five central government secretaries and chief secretaries of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha are part of the panel.

“The CM is also going to seek Centre’s help in diversification and management of paddy stubble. We have already announced purchase of moong on MSP and Rs 1500 per acre bonus for Direct Sowing of Rice (DSR). The CM will present this initiative of the government in the meeting seeking centre’s help also in such initiative so that Punjab’s agriculture could be saved of challenges and the state from desertification as our underground water aquifers are drying up,” a functionary said.

The CM would also take up the issue of model schools that are being set up in the state.

Source: The Indian Express

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