October 15, 2011 admin


New Delhi – Punjab Finance Minister Dr. Upinderjit Kaur today urged the Centre to strengthen the economy of the states through giving more financial powers and resources to the states and particularly to the Punjab. Keeping in view of the Border state, contribution of more then 50% towards the National food basket and 30% population of the Scheduled caste people of Punjab State.
Taking part in the deliberations of the meeting of the Empowered Committee of the State Finance Minister’s held here today at the Delhi Secretariat under the Chairmanship of Bihar:s Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Mr. Sushil Kumar Modi, Punjab Finance Minister Dr.Upinderjit Kaur  stressed on the immediate need to change the criteria of the financial help to the states from the backwardness to the target achievers states and making  significance contribution to the national cause as border of the country,  national food security and welfare of the poor people. She also requested that Punjab being a border state should also be given the special status for its major contribution.
On the agricultural front, Dr. Upinderjit Kaur demanded that Minimum Support Prices should be fixed as per Dr. Swaminanthan formula, giving a profit margin of 50 % over cost of production. The beleaguered peasantry was not getting adequate returns from agriculture and was reeling under financial strain.   She also highlighted the problems of food grain storage and sought financial assistance from the Centre to address this issue on the priority. Punjab  Finance Minister said that the substantial food grains were lost every year due to unscientific system of storage and projected the state’s requirement of 78 lac MT of long term storage capacity and at least 25 lac MT should be in the form of silos.  She also demanded Rs.100 crore as permanent annual central assistance to institute of national significance, the Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana which had played a pivotal role in ushering in green revolution and subsequently attaining national food security, should be made financially viable to undertake constant research in high yielding varieties.
She also raised an issue to widen the scope of National Rural Employment Guarantees Scheme (NREGA) by including works like constructions of toilets for SC and BPL families, lining of distributaries, minors, water courses, boundary walls for schools and hospitals and white washing of government buildings etc. Dr Upinderjit Kaur highlighted the gross in justice done to the state by fixing very low   wage rates under NREGA  and sought immediate review of wages to end this disparity once for all.
The Finance Minister pleaded to extend Pardhan Mantri Swashthya Suraksha Yojna (PMSSY) in the next 12th Five Year Plan so that all the medical colleges could be upgraded in a time bound manner. She mentioned there was acute shortage of doctors especially the specialists and the efforts of GoI for increasing the seats in medical colleges were really loadable. She also urged the Centre to launch a scheme for attractive private investments in health and medical education, enabling the Punjab State to provide the educational and health facilities to the poor people of the state.
Outlining the industrial scenario in the state, Dr. Upinderjit Kaur asked the Government of India to extend Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) up to Amritsar in Punjab and it should be linked with Western Freight Corridor. Eastern Freight Corridor should also be extended up to Amritsar. She also underlined the need to take fresh initiatives to boost trade with Pakistan. More items should be allowed to be traded through land route with Pakistan. The Hussaniwala border in Ferozepur district should also be opened for trade. Punjab, which was primarily an Agriculture and Landlocked State, should be provided assistance for development of agro processing industries, she added.
Dwelling on the major initiative taken by the state government in the departments like animal husbandry, rural development, urban development, infrastructure, education, technical education social security, welfare of SC/BCs, Dr. Upinderjit Kaur demanded substantial hike in the funds allocated under the centrally sponsored schemes to the states.
Prominent amongst others the meeting was also attended by the Chief Minister of Delhi, Finance Minister of Haryana, Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Bihar, and Principal Secretaries and Taxation Commissioners of the concerned states were present in the meeting.

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