The merchants and traders of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) are up in arms against the State government for its “apathy” towards their demands have threatened to close APMCs across the State from July 27 for an indefinite period.
Their main demand is implementation of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation Ordinance), 2020, as it is and abolition of cess and fees for transactions done in the APMC yards. Their grouse is that after the Ordinance came into force, those operating from the APMC yards were being made to pay extra while those operating from outside the yard were exempted.
In the last fortnight, the APMC merchants from various districts of the State have been holding meetings to discuss the next course of action in the wake of the central Ordinance and subsequent amendments in the State Act. While the merchants operating in various APMC yards of the State are in favour of implementing the Central Ordinance as it is, they are not happy with the State government’s amendment to charge 1% cess to the APMC merchants and other regulations. Earlier this month in the meeting held at FKCCI in Bengaluru, merchants had requested the State government to do away with the APMC cess. However, the State government only reduced the cess from 1.5% to 1%.
“We want the same law to be applied for the transactions done inside and outside the yard. We don’t want any of the permits including 35A and 35 B to be applied only for APMC merchants,” president of APMC Action Committee Shankranna Munavalli and former Chairman of Karnatak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) told The Hindu .
In the meetings, the merchants have been expressing concern over the very existence the 162 APMC yards in the State. Considering the funds needed for maintenance of the APMC yards, they have said that if the government came up with the proposal of levying 0.2% service tax, they would support it and cooperate with the government.
The association of onion and potato merchants, foodgrains and vegetables too has expressed solidarity.
“It is not just traders or merchants, but there are lakhs of workers including daily wage headload workers who are dependent on the APMCs. Farmers too are benefited a great deal by the APMCs. However, because of the new regulations we are forced to take the path of agitation,” Basavaraj Yaklaspur, president of Hubballi Merchants’ Association said.