Traders at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) welcomed the Supreme Court order of suspension the implementation of the three farm laws until further notice and set up a committee comprising experts to hear the parties and understand the ground situation. They claimed that this is a half victory, and now the state government should also waive off the cess, being collected at the wholesale market for any trade.
Bhimji Bhanushali, secretary of the Grain, Rice & Oilseeds, Merchants’ Association (GROMA) said that the Supreme Court order has come as a big relief for farmers as well as traders. “The farm laws are meant to end of the APMCs across the country,” said Bhanushali. He added that the laws are against the livelihood of lakhs of traders and farmers.
Traders are opposing the farm laws at they feel that it is not providing them a level playing field. They claim that cess is being collected when a product is sold at the wholesale market while there is no such tax outside the market.
“Big corporate will buy products outside the market at any price and over the period, the wholesale market will be wiped out,” said Bhanushali. He added that in the future, farmers will have no option but to sell their produce to corporates at the price decided by the corporates.
In the first week of June, the central government amendment the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, brought The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020’. With the amendment, farmers are allowed to trade outside the APMC without any State’s tax or legal binding. Later, the government passed the bill in both houses.
At present, the trade of essential commodities like food grain, oil, vegetables, onion-potato attracts 0.8 % cess at the APMC. Bhanushali said that because of the cess, the same product becomes costly at APMC and people buy from out of the wholesale market. “We are not against the decision as we have always supported the welfare of farmers,” said Bhanushali.
However, Bhanushali says that the decision has severely impacted their business and traders are incurring huge losses.