Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the Assembly on Monday that part of the arrears payable to farmers under the paddy procurement scheme would be cleared this week.

Replying to the demands for grants for Heads of States, Ministers and Headquarters Staff and Administration of Justice, the Chief Minister said Rs.644 crore out of Rs.996 crore due to farmers had been paid. The government had just released Rs.170 crore more, which would be disbursed this week.

The Chief Minister said the Kerala government offered the highest procurement price to farmers in the country, by adding a subsidy of Rs.5.90 a kg over the procurement price fixed by the Centre. An arrangement with banks to facilitate early payments was being worked out.

Pending bills

Mr. Chandy said the government faced a backlog in bill payments to public works contractors because it had spent Rs.7,335 crore against the budgeted amount of Rs.4,997 crore. Though this could be termed bad financial management, the government could not ignore pressure from the people for road works. Arrears in payment of welfare pensions would be cleared soon.

Denying the Opposition’s allegation that the education sector was being surrendered to the private sector, the Chief Minister said the government sector was not being ignored. Colleges were sanctioned in Assembly constituencies without a government college. The new medical colleges were also in the government sector. He said that the major infrastructure initiatives were making progress. The SmartCity would be commissioned in 2015 and the Kochi Metro in 2016.

After the Chief Minister’s reply, the House passed the demands for grants totalling Rs.668.70 crore for 69 votes against 61.

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