Sidhu fumes as Cabinet turns down loan proposal
Chandigarh: It’s not a smooth sailing for Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been cornered twice this week.Even while his Cabinet colleagues, who are part of the Cabinet sub-committee on mining, chose to distance themselves from the report submitted by him on the new mining policy for the state, his proposal to get Rs 800-crore enhancement of loan being taken by his department from HUDCO has also been shot down.The cricketer-turned-minister’s proposal for getting the loan amount of Rs 1,540 crore from HUDCO further enhanced by another Rs 800 crore found no takers in the Cabinet meeting held earlier this week.His proposal was summarily dismissed by the Finance Department, which asked him to first get the already sanctioned loan amount and utilise it. Peeved, Sidhu is learnt to have vent his ire in the Cabinet meeting, saying his proposal was being “deliberately rejected”.Official sources have told The Tribune that Sidhu insisted that his proposal be accepted, as the loan amount was needed for finishing all announced water supply and sewerage works in the state.The issue came up for discussion when the agenda for extending the validity of the Punjab Municipal Infrastructure Development Corporation (PMIDC) Act from 2020-21 to 2037-38 was being debated in the meeting on Tuesday.The minister had then argued that increasing the validity was essential so as to ensure that the Rs 200 crore that comes to the PMIDC (from 2 per cent GST collection being given to the corporation) will remain with the corporation and used as repayment for the entire loan period. He is also learnt to have pleaded his case for loan enhancement, which was overruled in the meeting.The minister, at his own level, had worked out the terms of the loan and got it sanctioned from HUDCO. A loan of Rs 1,540 crore was approved earlier this year and a first tranche of the loan (Rs 200 crore) has been received by PMIDC. This loan has been sanctioned to PMIDC at 9.6 per cent rate of interest.