Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Thursday said the Centre’s agriculture sector Bills were primarily aimed at lifting the safety cover in the form of Minimum Support Price (MSP), thereby ruining the food growers of the country.
Mr. Badal said Punjabis would not accept any such move that aimed to harm farmers’ interests, and the State government would vehemently oppose these attempts of the BJP-led Union government. “No one will be allowed to harm the interests of farmers at any cost. The agriculture Bills will deprive the farmers of a safety cover in the form of MSP,” said Mr. Badal.
He said the ₹50 increase in MSP of wheat announced by the Centre recently was the least in the previous decade (only 2.6%). He said this was despite the fact that the Commission for Agriculture Cost and Prices (CACP) had recommended an MSP increase of 6% in the wake of 8.4% food inflation. “This is a pointer that the Union government is dragging its feet from giving due MSP to farmers,” said Mr. Badal.
Highlighting the significance of MSP to farmers, the Finance Minister said that besides ensuring well being of food growers, it also acted as a catalyst in the State’s development. In Punjab, procurement of food grains worth ₹70,000 crore took place every year. Mr. Badal said the State received ₹3,900 crore mandi fees annually, which was used for maintenance, repair, and upkeep of 65,000 km of link roads, bridges, culverts, mandis, and other infrastructure.
The Finance Minister said Punjab always borne the brunt of the BJP government’s anti-Punjab stance. “Special tax concessions to hill States, the GST regime, and now these agriculture Bills have broken the backbone of Punjab’s economy,” said Mr. Badal. The worst part was that the Shiromani Akali Dal had always been part and parcel of the BJP’s anti-Punjab tirade, he said.