Indian government admits mismatch between procurement, storage of grains

Finance Minister Mukherjee admitted a "mismatch" as godowns lacked storage space when there had been a "record production" of rice and wheat

New Delhi: Amid vociferous protests by the Opposition on the plight of farmers due to lack of storage for record production of foodgrains, the Indian government on Monday admitted a mismatch between procurement and storage. It said efforts were on to ease pressure on godowns by encouraging exports and providing foodgrains to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act aims (MNREGA) workers as part of wages, reports PTI.

Making a brief statement on the farmers' plight in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee admitted a "mismatch" as godowns lacked storage space when there had been a "record production" of rice and wheat.

He said that earlier 30-40% of the total production of foodgrains used to be purchased by the government and the rest taken care of by the market. But in the last 2-3 years, due to high minimum support price, procurement had become the primary responsibility of central and state governments and their agencies, he said.

Referring to the shortage of jute bags to store foodgrains, the Finance Minister said to augment their availability, the government was trying to import them, even as 2 lakh MT of storage capacity has been added.

While plastic bags had been banned, the government was following international norms for packaging of sugar, wheat and rice stored in biodegradable jute bags, he said.

Besides providing several tax and other concessions to create more storage capacity, exports were being encouraged and the Rural Development Ministry was working on providing foodgrain to MNREGA workers as part of their wages. State governments have to be involved in this, he said.

Mr Mukherjee's remarks followed a 10-minute adjournment of Lok Sabha proceedings after members of NDA, Left, RJD and SP created a furore over farmers plight, saying foodgrains were rotting and getting destroyed in rains due to lack of storage at a time of record wheat and rice output.

The Finance Minister said he would give out more details on the issue during his reply to the Finance Bill in the Lower House on Tuesday.

During the adjournment, leaders like LK Advani, Sharad Yadav and Rewati Raman Singh were seen discussing the issue with Mr Mukherjee.

Earlier, Sharad Yadav (JD-U) raised the issue and slammed the government for doing little for the sake of farmers.

Pointing at Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Mr Mukherjee who were present in the House, he said government should leave aside other issues and concentrate on resolving burning problems faced by the farmers on a war-footing.

He claimed that while on one hand wheat was lying in the open, there were people who had no food to eat. There was also no facility for farmers to store foodgrains and let them rot by keeping them in the open.

NDA and other opposition members were on their feet and accused the government of failing to solve the problem.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj raised the issue of poor supply of jute bags to Madhya Pradesh and said despite a number of steps taken by the state government to procure farmers' produce, non-availability of jute bags was creating problems.

She said despite assurance by the Food Minister, the state has not been provided with jute bags till date.

Several members from NDA, Left parties, SP, BSP and RJD protested the stand of the government, leading to brief adjournment of the House.




4 years ago

The havoc this is necessarily going to lead to along with further spate of suicides by farmers (as the middlemen, mostly either politicians or their stooges, apart from the big chain of stores) will prove to be yet another conundrum for the unthinking and irresponsible bureaucrats busy only with personal wealth creation and career prospects--including post-retirement FAO assignments. Already there are unmistakable signs of farmers in fertile areas shifting to growing fruits (like papaya, banana, guava, etc.) considering the availability of ready markets and better shelf life as well as easier storage facilities, what to talk of better returns by opting against food crops. The politicians do not care, hankering after their pound of flesh from the centre so as to loot the spoils, while the IAS has no responsibility to the nation and its people whatsoever as they keep to the policy of "I AM SAFE". The pernicious effect of building granaries with scientific ways of preserving stocks for contingencies and the excess production leading to kills by the middlemen and chain stores is going to be unmanageable for the govts at the centre and the corrupt state potentates.

FM announces relief on jewellery, capital gains tax, defers GAAR by one year

Mukherjee halved the capital gains tax for private equity investors to 10%, and also withdrew 1% levy on gold and silber jewellery

New Delhi: Bowing to pressure, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday announced a slew of measures to provide relief to the jewellery sector and postponed implementation of the general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) by one year, but offered no concessions to Vodafone involved in tax dispute, reports PTI.

Moving the Finance Bill, 2012 for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha, Mr Mukherjee halved the capital gains tax for private equity investors to 10% and relaxed the norms for arrest of persons involved in violation of Customs Act.

"The government has decided to withdraw the levy (1% excise duty) on all precious metal jewellery, branded or unbranded, with effect from 17 March 2012," he announced, bowing to demand within and outside the House.

He said the threshold limit for TCS (tax collection at source) on cash purchase of jewellery will be raised to Rs5 lakh from the present Rs2 lakh.

However, the Minister said, the threshold limit for cash purchase on bullion will be retained at Rs2 lakh. Bullion will not include any coin or other article weighing 10 gm or less, he added, setting the tone for the debate on the crucial bill.


iGATE removes Patni from brand name

According to iGATE CEO Phaneesh Murthy Patni, being a family name, is difficult to protect in several of its markets

Bangalore: A year after it completed the acquisition of Patni Computer, iGATE Corporation on Monday announced new identity, dropping Patni from its brand name, reports PTI.

The new brand identity of the subsidiary of the US-based consulting, technology and BPO company will be now just iGATE, the company said.

In January last year, an iGate-led consortium had bought nearly 63% stake in India's sixth largest IT company Patni Computer for about $921 million (Rs4,188 crore).

The Completion of the acquisition was announced on 12 May 2011 and company was called 'iGATE Patni'.

Unveiling the new brand, iGATE CEO Phaneesh Murthy said, "I have always articulated that Patni, being a family name, is difficult to protect in several of our markets. This brand change is in line with our vision of 'one company' that will follow the successful delisting offer process of Patni with the Indian stock exchanges."

He said in the statement, "With a revenue run rate of over a billion dollars and over 27,000 employees, the new iGATE symbolises a young and vibrant brand representing the merits of a fully integrated entity.

Mr Murthy said that the company, equipped with an innovative mindset of a game-changer, will engage with global customers to deliver high-impact outcomes through our proprietary iTOPS framework.


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