Tuesday, February 10, 2009

BADAL LAMENTS NEGLECT OF PUNJAB BY CENTRE IN AGRICULTURAL FINANCE, RELIEF AND DEBT WAIVER

CHANDIGARH FEBRUARY 9, 2009

Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today bemoaned the neglect of Punjab by successive governments at the Centre in agricultural finance, relief and debt waiver to farmers.

Addressing the inaugural session of the two-day National Conference on Revival of Rural Credit here at CII, Mr. Badal said, \"Agricultural debt waiver and debt relief scheme announced by Govt. of India could provide only a relief of Rs. 531.92 crores to nearly 2.02 lacs farmers availing loan from the Cooperative Credit Structure. This relief from out of Rs. 71000 crores forms only 0.75% against nearly 45% contribution of the State farmers to the food bowl of the country\". He pointed out that he wrote several O. letters to the Hon\'ble Prime Minister and Union Finance Minister requesting them to waive of the entire agricultural loan outstanding against the farmers in view of their contribution to the food security mission of Govt. of India but no positive response was received. He also mentioned that those farmers who availed loan before 31.3.1997 and were not able to repay their loans were deprived of the benefit under the scheme by Govt. of India. The farmers of the State in-fact suffered heavily being regular pay masters.

Referring to the Vaidyanathan Committee report on Short Term Cooperative Credit Structure with a total package of Rs. 15700 crores released after the recommendations which were thoroughly debated and consequently the MOU was designed. The Punjab Government agitated the denial of real benefit to Cooperative Financing Institutions in States like Punjab although the State Government to remain in the main stream had agreed to sign the to MOU. The package provided a premium on in efficiency and reward with massive doses of money to States, who is cooperative credit structure performed miserably. Again the proposed package for Long Term Cooperative Credit Structure when implemented would provide only Rs. 79.74 crores to 27 Primary Agricultural Cooperative Development Banks from out of the package of Rs. 4839 crores forming only 01.65% of the package. \"This share of the Punjab Cooperatives is totally negligible in relation to their contribution to agricultural production\", rued Mr. Badal.

The Chief Minister said that the Union Government had been insisting on providing adequate agricultural credit to the farmers with a programme of doubling the agricultural credit flow in the country but had not taken any initiative in providing the adequate refinance to either the short term cooperative credit structure or long term cooperative credit structure in the States. \"The Government of India, therefore, needs to have a re-look into their programmes relating to agriculture so as to really benefit the farmers especially of States like Punjab who have been contributing immensely to the food security of the country\", said Mr. Badal.

In his welcome address Punjab Cooperation Minister Capt. Kanwaljit Singh said that the State Government had been alive to the issue of democratic functioning and member participation in decision-making of the cooperatives so that cooperatives become autonomous and democratically controlled enterprises. Various measures including amendment to Punjab Cooperative societies Act, 1961 to ensure democratic functioning of the cooperatives were under active consideration of the Govt. \"For the success and growth of cooperative enterprises, it is necessary to have socially-oriented leaders, imbibed with cooperative spirit and business acumen, the Punjab government have started new training programmes for the members and elected representatives of the cooperatives at the grass-root level.\" said Capt. Kanwaljit Singh.
Capt. Kanwaljit Singh raised the issue at this forum with President, International Cooperative Alliance Mr. Ivano Barberini to set up a Centre of Excellence in Punjab to impart training to the members of cooperative societies of the State.

Speaking on the occasion, President, International Cooperative Alliance Mr. Ivano Barberini in the context of rural cooperative credit said :\" Indian case has been classic with an enabling government policy support and proactive banking regulation Act. The scope of cooperatives is phenomenal provided the quality service; quality product and quality attitude is maintained in the truest spirit of a co-operative banker.\" He further said that to change rapidly, the co-operative enterprise needed close and continuous relationship with its members and stakeholders. The more a co-operative is organized to be a leader of change, the more essential is the balance between innovation and continuity, consistent with its mission.
Mr. Barberini pointed out that it was clear that consistency with cooperative values does not mean the maintaining of old attitudes and behaviors. \"The future is not built on the laurels of the past rather the regrets for the past define the lessons for future. \", he said.

Conceding the demand to set up a state- of- the- art Institute of Cooperative Training in Punjab, Mr. Barberini assured Capt. Kanwaljit Singh that he would soon take up this issue with International Cooperative Alliance, Geneva.
In his address the Union Minister of State for Finance Mr. Pawan Bansal said that legal frame work must be given to the cooperative societies to ensure its functioning as an efficient democratically controlled enterprises. He said Government of India had sanctioned a loan of Rs. 46,000 Crore to 29500 Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies in seven states of the country.

Speaking on the occasion Chairman NCARDB\'s Federation Sh. K. Sivadassan Nair, said that Agriculture Rural Development Banks (ARDB\'s) should be able to raise own resources and offer a range of financial services depending on the needs of their members. This is the core aspect of reforms in the long term credit structure recommended by various committees including Jagdish Capoor task Force and Vaidyanathan Task Force as part of the revival packages suggested be them. He said the Jagdish Capoor Task force strongly recommended conversion of ARDBs into fullfledged banks to make them resource based.

Prominent among others who addressed the conference included Food and Supply Minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon & the President NCUI Mr G. H. Amin, The conference was also attended by Chief Parliamentary Secretary Mr. Jagdeep Singh Nakai, Financial Commissioner Cooperation Dr. B.C.Gupta, besides the cooperation Secretaries and Registrars of cooperatives societies from various states of the country.


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