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18 states join Electronic Agricultural Trading Portal eNAM (National Agriculture Market) : Government

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New Delhi, April 12, 2017: Eighteen states have joined the eNAM (National Agriculture Market) and 13 of them have made necessary amendments to rules under their respective APMC Acts within a year of its launch, the government said on Wednesday.

The eNAM is a pan-India electronic trading portal, which networks APMC (agricultural produce market committee) markets to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities, which was launched in April last year.

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NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog member Ramesh Chand on Wednesday held a review meeting here on Agriculture Market Reforms, which was attended by officials of agriculture marketing, forest and revenue departments of state governments.

“It was a review meeting to see the progress of the reforms we have undertaken and discuss the future road map. These include setting up of private markets, allowing direct marketing, contract farming, deregulation of fruit and vegetables from the provisions of the APMC Act, and eNAM,” Agriculture Ministry Additional Secretary Ashok Dalwai told the media here.

He said the state governments have shown positive interest in ushering in agricultural reforms, aimed at transparency, effectiveness and competition in agricultural trade sector and to double farmers’ incomes.

Under the private marketing reform, private players can set up their own ‘mandi’ (market) while under direct marketing farmers can sell their produce to bulk purchasers, exporters or retail customers directly by bypassing APMC markets.

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Since the eNAM was launched in April last year, at least 417 APMC markets have joined the platform with a trade of 5.9 million tonnes of 69 types of commodities.

“In just one year, quantum of business has touched Rs 15,000 crore. The value and volume of commodities is increasing day by day,” Dalwai said.

According to the ministry, 3.95 million farmers, over 88,000 traders and over 44,000 commission agent have joined the platform.

The government’s target is for a unified agriculture market for interstate trade. However, the government’s immediate plan is to form unified market at the state level first.

Dalwai said a committee was working on the requirements to integrate India’s markets.

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He said the Centre was ready with a draft model APMC law, which will act as a template for the state governments to amend their respective APMC Acts to facilitate reforms.

“The new law will create efficient market system. It will break the monopoly of any one institution and create conducive environment,” Dalwai said.

The draft is likely to be shared at a meeting to be attended by the Union Agriculture Minister on April 24.

Dalwai said Maharashtra had topped in implementing direct marketing as it issued 527 licences as against Rajasthan’s 76, Karnataka’s 37, and Gujarat’s and Telangana’s three each.

Similarly, Maharashtra has taken lead in allowing private marketing and contract farming by approving 41 and 10 proposals respectively.

“Commodities such as basmati rice, bitter gourd, chili, lady’s finger, tomato, and white onion were allowed for contract farming by the state governments. It is up to the states to decide on which commodity to be given the go-ahead,” Dalwai said. (IANS)

 

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Political Climate Accused Of Encouraging The Promotion Of Black Money

There is a third reason why people who are tracking black money should not be looking at Swiss Banks

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Political Climate Accused Of Encouraging The Promotion Of Black Money. Pixabay

Last week, the political climate was charged with accusations that the government had actually begun encouraging the promotion of black money. Prima facie, the charges seemed to have some merit in them. Swiss bank deposits from India had swelled by 50%, one of the largest increases in recent times. But the accusation was a bit uncharitable. For three specific reasons.

First, even though the percentages seem high, the total amounts involved in Indian deposits with Swiss banks are not. At CHF 1.02 billion – even after accounting for the 50% jump – the amount is significantly lower than the CHF 6.46 billion in 2006 when the UPA was in power. In fact, Indian deposits with Swiss banks had been declining for the past three years – right from 2014 when Prime Minister Modi formed his government. It was only last year that the trend was broken and Swiss deposits began climbing again.

The second reason was that Indian deposits with Swiss banks account for just 0.07% of global deposits with Swiss Banks. That is one of the lowest levels ever during the last decade, overshadowed by an even lower share of 0.05% in 2017. At such percentages, India’s deposits with Swiss Banks are not much to rant and rail about.

There is a third reason why people who are tracking black money should not be looking at Swiss Banks. True, they were the best shelter for clandestine money in the past. But Switzerland has entered into several bilateral treaties for making disclosures about bank deposits to requesting states. That includes a treaty with India to provide real-time information with regard to Indians from January 2019. Obviously, any Indian who wants to stash away black money will not do so with Swiss Banks, because he would stand exposed.

There could, thus, be one credible explanation for the quantum of deposits in Swiss Banks going up. It could be found in the government’s decision to ram through amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCRA) in March this year.

which seeks to exempt political parties from disclosing their source of funds from overseas. The courts had earlier demanded that political parties make these disclosures and the government thought it wiser to try and change the law instead. This move is now being challenged before the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional by public spirited persons like EAS Sarma. The decision of the court is still awaited. The amendment to the FCRA technically permits politically connected parties to put their money back with Swiss  Banks where it is safer than in tax havens with not-so-unblemished a banking record. If this explanation is correct, one could say that the government, in collusion with all other political parties (all have kept quiet about these amendments), are responsible for the spurt in Swiss deposits.

cartoon showing black money
Cartoon Showing Black money. Flickr

As mentioned in these columns earlier, if people want to look for black money, they should first demand a full fledged investigation into the agriculture income disclosures before the tax authorities during 2011 and 2012. What makes those disclosures horrifying is (a) they were larger than ever before; (b) the cumulative value of disclosures during the two years was a mind-boggling Rs 874 lakh crore (Rs 874 trillion); (c) the cumulative value  of disclosures was eight times India’s GVA for 2013, and almost 100 times the total tax collected in that year.

It can be found in the decision of the enforcement authorities of not auctioning off properties they have seized in the past – irrespective of whether they relate to the NSEL Scam or the politicians who are being investigated for corruption (on extremely narrow charges). Attachment of properties makes for big news, full of sound and fury. But the refusal to auction them off points to collusion.

It can be found in the files of scores of senior officials who were suspended, when fraud was discovered, and then reinstated when public memory died. It can also be found in the files that routinely get burnt in fires that take place at government offices – possibly aimed at making evidence disappear – especially when it comes to corrupt deals and land development scams.

Also read: Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party and Its Political Self Goals

But these are things politicians do not like to talk about. Many of them are collusive partners in the generation of black money. Their silence in permitting the amendments to the FCRA is ample proof of their willingness to allow a cover-up. The rantings and ravings against Swiss Banks are, therefore, of no consequence. (IANS)