Photo: Sanjeev Sanyal/Facebook
Photo: Sanjeev Sanyal/Facebook

On Friday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a press conference to announce the third tranche of economic reforms to counter the effects of the coronavirus outbreak and consequent lockdown.

Following the press conference Principal Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance, Sanjeev Sanyal took to Twitter to laud the administrative reforms that had been announced.

"The outdated Essential Commodities Act to be amended. This removes a major hurdle for farmers and the food supply chain. This had been suggested in Economic Survey," he tweeted.

Sanyal said that "barrier-free inter-state trade" was to be encouraged. To this end, a central law would be introduced to allow farmers to sell their produce as they wished to.

"This removes license permit raj for the agricultural sector," he added.

In a follow-up tweet Sanyal added that a legal framework would be created to "protect and enable Indian farmers to sell their produce, invest in new technology and become competitive".

"Finally agriculture is free," he said.

"As should clear by now, this is not just about stimulating demand, it is about deep structural reforms. While reforms will continue to be announced over time, the philosophy should be clear by now," he added.

In her third press conference in as many days, Sitharaman spoke about agriculture, dairy and allied activity. She announced, Rs 1 lakh crore for aggregators, Farmer Producer Organisation, as well as the creation of a Rs 10,000 crore fund in a cluster-based approach for food enterprises. Money would be provided to fisheries and the marine industry, she said. Rs 15,000 crore was announced as an incentive to support setups in the dairy industry, and Rs 4,000 crore was allocated for the cultivation of medicinal plants.

Speaking about the Amendments to the Essential Commodities Act, Sitharaman said that this would primarily ensure that cereals, oilseeds, onions and potatoes will be deregulated. Stock limits would be imposed in exceptional circumstances. No such stock limit will apply for food processes, value chain participants, the Finance Minister said.

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