Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 7
Ahead of the rabi procurement season starting from April 10, the Centre and Punjab government will meet on Thursday to try and resolve the lingering deadlock over the issue of direct online MSP payment to farmers.
Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal confirmed on the sidelines of the Union Cabinet briefing on Wednesday that he would meet his Punjab counterpart Bharat Bhushan Ashu in the capital tomorrow.
The two met virtually on Wednesday to discuss some matters pertaining to the railways and also happened to discuss the DBT issue with Goyal insisting that the state commence direct payment route rather than the current system of payment through commission agents.
Punjab has however been demanding exemption from the direct payment and wants the ‘arthiya’ route to stand.
Government sources however said DBT payment systems in Punjab were ready and the same was confirmed in a recent field visit to Punjab by the CMD of FCI.
“Punjab can start direct online payment to farmers today if it wants,” official sources said, adding that the Centre has already granted three extensions to the state to switch to direct online MSP payment system as mandated by the Finance Ministry’s 2018 orders.
These extensions were given for the Kharif Marketing Season 2019-2020, Rabi Marketing Season 2020-2021 and Kharif Marketing Season 2020-21.
Goyal in his last letter to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, seeking compliance, had said all other procuring states had begun DBT payment of MSP to farmers and Punjab was now the only exception.
CM Amarinder Singh has meanwhile written two letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking another exemption from the online payment scheme but has not heard back as the Centre presses ahead with reforms.