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Punjab

Posted at: Nov 7, 2018, 1:24 AM; last updated: Nov 7, 2018, 1:24 AM (IST)

Move afoot to partly waive defaulting millers’ dues

Rajmeet Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 6

Over a year after bringing a one-time settlement (OTS) scheme for 1,500 defaulting rice millers whose outstanding amount has crossed Rs 7,500 crore, the state government is coming up with a scheme to waive part of their dues by reworking the interest penalty levied on them.

Directly benefitting top defaulters owing allegiance to the Congress or the SAD, the government in the revised OTS has proposed that the interest component should be less than the principal amount. It is learnt that two Cabinet ministers were pushing the case of one of the top defaulters.

The principal outstanding that millers owe to Pungrain, Markfed, Punsup, Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation and the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation has swelled to Rs 2,182.92 crore and the compounded interest has multiplied to Rs 5,400 crore.

To be tabled in the Cabinet meeting, the revised scheme prepared by the Department of Food and Supplies would be discussed with the CM, who returned from his foreign visit on Saturday. The Finance Department has been asked to comment on the financial implications of waiving part of the dues.

Food and Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said certain changes had been recommended in the revised OTS policy. “As millers were not coming forwards to clear their dues, the government aims at recovering the principal amount,” he said.

The defaulted amount has accrued for different reasons like failing to return milled rice to the FCI and selling it in the open market, dispute over pending interest amount, dues on account of gunny bags, quality cut or loss on account of sale.

Legal proceedings initiated against such defaulters have been pending for the last many years resulting in marginal recovery of the outstanding amount that keeps increasing every year due to the factor of compound interest.

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