To organise protest campaign across Kottayam district on December 16, 17 and 18

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is gearing itself to spearhead a campaign to protest against the alleged apathy of the Central and State governments towards the problems faced by rubber growers in the State.

Speaking at a meet-the-press programme at the Kottayam Press Club on Wednesday, party leader and former Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac alleged that organised efforts were made to push down the prices of natural rubber in the domestic market. “A recent move in this direction was to do away with the tax for 78 rubber products, which constituted 44 per cent of total number of rubber products listed in the Harmonised System of the World Trade Organisation (WTO),” he said.

According to him, the Central government has facilitated the commercial interests of corporate entities by implementing certain policies that did not auger well for the rubber sector.

The State Trading Corporation of India Limited has become ineffective owing to its complete withdrawal from procuring rubber. Dr. Isaac said the expert committee, constituted by the Central government in 2010 to determine the duty structure of natural rubber, had then recommended that an annual review was necessary for fixing the import duty. “The expert committee had then recommended to fix an import duty ceiling of Rs.20 per kg on account of the fact that the domestic price of natural rubber was higher than the international price. However, the Central government has not conducted any reviews in the subsequent years despite there being significant changes in the market scenario. In the process, the government has been unjustifiably violating the recommendations of a panel that it had constituted,” he said.

He demanded that the government should forego the value added tax (VAT) it received through rubber products at least until the ongoing crisis subsided.

The party would organise a protest campaign across Kottayam district on December 16, 17 and 18. The campaign would be led by CPI (M) district secretary K.J. Thomas. Party State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan would inaugurate a mass meeting of farmers at Pala on December 28, he said.

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