Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held pre-Budget interactions with representatives of farmers, cooperatives, and agro-food industries here on Monday.
While farmers’ organisations said they were not getting any input tax credit in the GST regime and demanded legalised MSP in the upcoming session of the Parliament, industry associations urged the Centre to lift the ban on exports of various agriculture produces and promotion for edible oil from soyabean, mustard, groundnut and sunflower, instead of palm. The issue of high taxes on processed food also came up for discussion during the meeting.
RSS-backed farmers’ outfit Bharatiya Kisan Sangh’s general secretary Mohini Mohan Mishra, who attended the meeting, said the Minister took down their suggestions. He said he hoped that they would be implemented.
“Farmers are producers. Most of the inputs they are using to produce are highly taxable under GST. However, they are not getting any input tax credit. So, either there must be some provision that farmers get the input tax credit or all inputs of agriculture should be GST-free,” Mr. Mishra said.
He demanded that the amount given to farmers under the PM Kisan Sanman Nidhi should be increased to help the farmers manage the increase in input cost.
“Governments at the States and the Centre are providing huge amount of subsidies to companies in the name of farmers. Farmers are not able to avail of those subsidies as they use other sources to procure fertilisers,” he said and demanded that fertiliser subsidy should be directly transferred to farmers.
K.V. Rajkumar, president, South Indian Sugarcane Farmers Associations (SISFA), demanded that a legally guaranteed MSP must be brought in the upcoming winter session of the Parliament. He suggested that any procurement below the MSP must be declared as a criminal offence. He demanded the implementation of the Rangarajan Committee recommendations for the sugar sector and establishment of a State-level Procurement/intervention Corporation to ensure purchase of millets, pulses and oilseeds etc. at MSP. Mr. Rajkumar also suggested that farmers should be given a monthly pension of ₹5,000, 25% of which can be collected from the farmers themselves.
Meanwhile, Bharat Krishak Samaj Chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar urged the Centre to not allow import of produce where landing costs are below MSP. “Focus on human resources development over infrastructure. Agriculture being a State subject, most States are not filling vacancies due to which there is rampant misgovernance, use of chemicals and attendant issues. The Finance Ministry must find a way to fund this gap,” he said on Twitter.