By Anil Choudhary, MD & CEO, National Bulk Handling Corporation:
There is no directional change, no far reaching steps to make perceptible difference in post-harvest areas.
The changes are only in degree and not in kind. A country where agriculture is still rainfed to a great extent, and where over 55 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture for its ivelihood, the steps are completely inadequate.
The few positives are:
- Outlay for farm funding increased to Rs8.50 lakh crore
- Rural Infrastructure Development Fund outlay increased to Rs25,000 crore
- Setting up of unified national agriculture farm produce market
- Service tax exemption for fruits and vegetables storage
The larger negatives are:
- All the services related to agri commodities handling, storage, etc, should have been exempted from service tax and not only fruits and vegetable storage
- Creation of adequate post-harvest infrastructure should have been a priority.
- No allocation in this budge for NABARD funding of warehouses
- MAT should have been taken away for agri infrastructure, which clearly suffers from viability issue.
- Further the accelerated depreciation under section 35AD should have been allowed for the warehousing business of a company.
- Large outlay for agriculture funding by banks has been announced without any emphasis on post-harvest credit despite the obvious advantages of encouraging post-harvest credit, tht would have enabled farmers to time their sales, boost to infrastructure, long term availability of food grains
- Agri warehousing being low viability business- meaningful measures were expected to be announced to make funds available at lower cost and longer amortization.