New bill removes cereals, pulses, onion, potatoes from essential commodities list
24 September 2020
Parliament on Tuesday passed the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, to remove cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. The bill, which was approved by the Lok Sabha on 15 September, was approved by a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, completing the parliamentary process.
The bill replaces an ordinance promulgated in June and will become law after its gets Presidential assent.
The bill addresses investor concerns of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations as the freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply are essential to business economics of private investors, especially in case of foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector, according to the government.
Replying to a short debate, minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution Danve Raosaheb Dadarao said the stock limit conditions imposed through the law were hindering investment in the agriculture infrastructure.
The amendments to the six-and-half-decade law provides that stock holding limit on commodities will only be imposed under exceptional circumstances like national calamities, famine with a surge in prices, the minister said. Also, processors and value chain participants are exempted from the stock limit.
The minister said the move will boost investment in the agriculture sector and will also create more storage capacities to reduce post harvest loss of crops. "This amendment is in favour of both farmers and consumers," Dadarao added.
According to him, the changes in the 1955 law is an important step to achieve the target of doubling farmers' income and also for ease of doing business. He said the Essential Commodities Act was brought when the country was not a self sufficient in food grains production. But now the situation has changed, therefore the amendment was required, he said.
While India has become surplus in most agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export. Farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities, he said.