Farmers' protest: Govt likely to seek Cabinet nod for MSP assurance

A Bharatiya Kisan Union leader helps a farmer leader to break his fast during Delhi Chalo protest against Centre’s agri laws, at Ghazipur border on Monday | Photo: PTI
The Central government might seek a Cabinet approval for an executive order on securing minimum support price (MSP) to break the logjam on the three farm laws, sources have said.

It could also consider tweaking the rules to fulfill its promise of ensuring level-playing field in terms of taxes and cess collected between a regulated APMC and out-of-mandi transactions — as proposed in the compromise formula being offered to agitating farmers.

Sources said an electronic system of registration could be worked out for all out-of-mandi transactions based on which a nominal charge of, say around 1 per cent, could be levied on the total volume of such transactions. This can be called ‘trade facilitation charge’.

“Something on how this can be levied and whether states first need to bring down in-mandi taxes to the same levels could also be worked out before the rules are placed in Parliament for approval,” an official said.

In the compromise formula that the government offered to the farmers apart from an assurance on MSP, the government is willing to consider other tweaks in the already-passed farm acts. These included giving states power to frame rules on registration of new traders who will trade outside the designated APMC and not just rely on a PAN card (as laid down by the Trade Act in its current form). The new rules might also give states the right to levy fee or cess on private mandis outside the APMCs on par with the existing APMCs.

On the dispute resolution mechanism, the proposed changes include giving powers to farmers’ appeal in any civil court if he is not satisfied with the decision of the sub-divisional magistrate.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in an interview to PTI said that the government was constantly engaging with farmers to decide on the next date of talks. “The meeting will definitely happen,” Tomar said. He met Home Minister Amit Shah and other senior functionaries of the government on Monday to discuss issues related to the acts, and farmers’ opposition to the same. Tomar also met a delegation of farmers from Haryana and some other states who expressed their support for the acts with the suggested tweaks. Home Minister Rajnath Singh also met a delegation of BJP leaders from Punjab on the issue.

Agitating farmers held a day-long hunger strike at Delhi border points as the agitation spread to different parts of the country. BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan), one of the largest agitating farmers’ groups, did not participate in the hunger strike. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal observed a day-long fast and appealed people to do the same. He said the new laws would lead to immense inflation and only favour a few capitalists.

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