Will waive off more farm loans as fiscal situation improves, says Punjab CM

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LISTS OUT ACHIEVEMENTS ON EACH OF THE `NINE NUKTAS’ OF CONG IN JUST 2 YEARS OF HIS GOVT.

CHANDIGARH, MARCH 16: While reassuring the farming community of hike in loan waiver once the fiscal situation in the state improves, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday lambasted the Akalis for criticising his government’s farm debt waiver scheme while failing to do anything for farmers themselves.

Addressing a press conference to mark two years of his government, the Chief Minister said if money is available, he would definitely give more to the farmers, who deserved the same for the contribution they make to the prosperity of the nation.

Asserting that his government had laid a strong foundation for development of Punjab in a just two years since installation, Captain Amarinder said the Congress regime had delivered on each of the `nine nuktas’ promised in the run-up to the Assembly elections. Even the promise of smart phones to youth was being fulfilled, with tenders already
floated, he said, adding the best of phones would be given to youth.

Listing out the achievements of the Congress Government, Captain Amarinder exuded confidence that state was on the right path and all set to leverage the renewed sense of optimism and revival across various key sectors.

Describing the steps taken to combat the problem of drugs, of which his government had successfully broken the backbone, Captain Amarinder said his government, immediately after assuming office, had constituted the Special Task Force (STF) which had done an exceptional job. So far, 21985 cases had been registered under NDPS Act, the Chief Minister said, adding that 26088 persons had also been arrested. More than 552 kg heroin had been recovered besides other contraband substances, he added.

Underlining the success of Drug Abuse Prevention Officers’ (DAPO) Programme in creating a mass anti-drug abuse movement, Captain Amarinder noted with satisfaction that more than 5 lakh DAPO self-volunteers had already enrolled. Further, under the state government’s ‘Buddy Programme’ more than 7.5 lakh buddy groups had been formed to create awareness on the subject of drugs, he added. At present, 65000 addicts were being treated at the OOAT clinics with an OPD footfall of more than 40 lakhs, he added.

Citing the success of his government’s Ghar Ghar Rozgar and Karobar Yojana in providing employment to youth, the Chief Minister revealed that more than 5.76 lakh youth had been facilitated by his government in getting employment in Private / Govt. Sector or Self-Employment till now, at an average of around 808 jobs per day.
Out target is to touch 1000 jobs per day, the Chief Minister said, adding that the State Government was committed to ensuring that no youth remains jobless. Four Mega Job Fairs and One International Job Fair held had witnessed huge success in ensuring gainful employment to youth.

Underscoring his government’s commitment to farmers’ welfare, the Chief Minister hailed the success of the Farm Debt Relief Scheme, under which 5.83 lakh small and marginal farmers had been provided debt relief of Rs. 4736 crore so far. As and when the financial position improves further, the state government would extend the benefit of this scheme especially to critical cases, said the Chief Minister.

The fourth phase of the scheme initiated on March 8 from Moga had also brought 2.85 Lakh landless laboures under the ambit of the scheme, providing them relief to the tune of Rs. 520 Crore, he added.

“We are doing our best to provide assistance but unless the Central Government implements the Swaminathan Commission Report in full, the woes of the farming community could not be alleviated,” he said.

From employment to industrial development, his government had made massive strides in powering the state on the path to progress, said the Chief Minister, expressing happiness that industry was now looking at Punjab as a favoured destination. The New Industrial & Investment Policy 2017 and its operational guidelines had been well-received by the state industry and even outside the State, Captain Amarinder Singh said, noting with happiness that the launch of the Business First Portal had further streamlined industry permissions and fastened project implementation. To check cartelization and ensure free movement of goods carriers at a fair transportation cost to the consumers, the Government had also abolished Truck Unions.

Listing out other notable achievements, Captain Amarinder Singh said his government had fixed Variable Electricity tariff for Industry, of both existing and new, at Rs.5 per unit for five years. This had provided a major relief to the industry with an annual power subsidy of Rs.1475 crore, he added.

The Chief Minister pointed out that in addition to revival of all the 300 old units at Mandi Gobindgarh, 30 new units were coming up. Another 36 units have applied for expansion, the Chief Minister said, adding that power consumption in the state had gone up by 13%, which was indicative of greater industrial activity across Punjab.

Underlining the fact that 299 MOUs for investment of Rs 51959 crore with an employment potential of about 1 Lakh direct employment had already been inked by the state since March 2017, Captain Amarinder said that this demonstrates the renewed trust and confidence of the investors in the state industry potential. More than 78% of these MoUs have already hit the ground, the Chief Minister pointed out, comparing the dismal record of mere 17% during the SAD regime.

Stressing on the Congress party’s commitment to ensure equitable representation of women both in Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies, the Chief Minister pointed out that his government had taken the lead in reserving 50% seats for Women in Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat Raj Institutions. Elections to these institutions have already been held and all of them are working to better the lives of the people, he added.

The Chief Minister reiterated his government’s commitment to the welfare of Scheduled Castes, OBCs and Minorities, citing decisions like waiver of loans upto Rs. 50,000 granted by SC Corporation and BC Corporation. “We have also enhanced the Social Security Pension from Rs. 500 to Rs. 750 for 19.2 lakh beneficiaries with an annual expenditure of Rs 1600 crore” he said adding that this was in addition to the increase in financial assistance under the Aashirwad Scheme from Rs.15000 to Rs.21000.

During the last two years, the Government had increased the reservation for OBCs in educational institutions from 12 to 15% besides enhancing reservation for SCs in all Government schemes from 15% to 30%. The gross annual income limit for the creamy layer of the OBCs/BCs had been increased from Rs. 6 lakh to Rs. 8 lakh, and the government had restored 14% reservation to SC employees in Group-A and Group-B, and 20% in Group-C and Group-D, services for filling up the vacancies by promotion through an amendment to the Act, the Chief Minister pointed out. The government had also reserved 10% jobs for EWS belonging to General Category in Government jobs, he added.

With an aim to provide an effective and transparent interface with the government and people, 2970 Guardians of Governance (GoGs) have been appointed in all the Districts to ensure that the benefits reach the deserving in a non-partisan manner, said the Chief Minister, making it clear that the government would continue to strengthen its systems and augment revenue to launch more projects for the welfare of the people of Punjab.