The United Democratic Front on Thursday wholeheartedly backed the Indo-Asean Free Trade Agreement and criticised the Left Democratic Front and its Government for running a politically motivated campaign against the pact.
The UDF high power committee passed a resolution at its meeting terming the trade pact as beneficial for the country in general, but wanted the Centre to ensure price stability in relation to coffee, tea and pepper, the three commodities that have not been included in the negative list, in view of the apprehension of farmers. The UDF felt Kerala would not have any problems with rubber, copra and marine products that figure in the negative list of 489 items.
The UDF also demanded a support price scheme for coconut on the lines of copra in case coconut prices were to case because of palm oil imports. “The Indo-Asean trade agreement should be converted into an opportunity to increase productivity and value addition of farm commodities. For this, the Central Government should extend all financial assistance to help the farmers use technology to achieve this objective and equipped to face global competition,” the resolution said.
“The LDF, particularly the CPI (M), as usual was trying to use the issue to get political capital out of it. The draft agreement was signed during the tenure of the Vajpayee Government and during the last several years has gone through a series of discussions. When India signed the Indo-US nuclear agreement, the CPI (M) had adopted a negative stand. The party was now taking a similar position. The LDF leaders were making statements without studying the various provisions in the pact with the sole intention of creating confusion. The people will dismiss the LDF and the CPI (M)’s stand on this issue as in the case of the nuclear agreement”, the resolution said.
Addressing a press conference, the UDF convener P P Thankachan said the LDF Government’s ineptitude was primarily responsible for the dismal show in copra procurement despite the higher support price the Centre announced.