In a major fillip to Punjab's persistent efforts for securing the waiver of Rs 31,000 crore food account, Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission N K Singh on Wednesday said the issue could not be brushed under the carpet, and formed a committee to find ways of settling the matter.
An official statement quoted Mr Singh, saying that the committee under the Finance Commission, with the Centre, the State, and the FCI, would explore all possibilities, given its terms of reference and constitutional propriety, to settle the festering problem.
The chairman also assured Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh of all possible support to revive Punjab; fiscal health and socio-economic development, while promising to look into all aspects of debt waiver to help the state distressed farmers.
The Chief Minister lamented that FCI was not pitching in the procurement operations in the state, whose godowns were full, leaving no space for storing the next crop. He also pointed out that the FCI had not picked up wheat in the state for the past 3-4 years, seeking the Centre, support to resolve the issue.
Responding to a query raised by the Chairman regarding the CCL term loan, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh highlighted the structural issues being faced by the state government in the procurement of paddy and wheat.
He also requested the Commission to take a ringside view of the situation to find an enduring solution, which complements the state's macro and micro level financial position.
Punjab Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi demanded a special grant of Rs 500 crores for various skill development initiatives including the setting up of a Skill University.Health Minister Brahm Mohindra said the state government had strengthened the healthcare network by recruiting requisite medical and paramedical staff.
Salary of medical officers had been hiked from Rs 15,000 to 40,000 per month and of specialists from Rs 40,000 to 70,000 per month, he said, adding that this had ensured their regular presence in the government hospitals and civil dispensaries, especially in rural areas.
Mohindra also demanded additional funds to further strengthen the government medical set-up in Punjab.