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Agri reforms: On-board states reaping benefits, says UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh

Singh said that BJP-ruled states had accepted all three of the Central government’s laws to reform the agriculture sector.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
April 24, 2021 4:13:46 am
UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh. (Express photo)

States that have begun implementation of the new farm laws have already started reaping benefits of the reform, Uttar Pradesh Minister for MSME and Investment Sidharth Nath Singh said at the ‘India’s quest for economic power’ event by The Indian Express and Financial Times on Thursday.

Singh said that BJP-ruled states had accepted all three of the Central government’s laws to reform the agriculture sector. Citing an example of the benefits of the reforms, he said “big players like PepsiCo came up to UP, they have invested almost about (Rs) 900 crore in Mathura,” adding that the new reforms had enabled farming with new technology, new seeds and under new contracts.

Singh also said that mint and rice-growing areas in UP had also already begun benefitting from investments after the implementation of the new farm laws.

The Central government had, in 2020, introduce three new laws to reform the agriculture sector which allow farmers to sell their produce outside of state Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC), abolish stock-holding limits on certain food items and provide a legal framework for contract farming. The Supreme Court had in January stayed the implementation of the three farm laws by the Centre, but Singh noted that the stay did not prevent states from implementing these laws.

Singh, who was speaking at a panel discussion on the ability of India’s companies to compete globally, also said that a number of BJP states had enacted important labour reforms to make industry more competitive.

Naushad Forbes, co-chairman of Forbes Marshall, noted that the impact of major reforms including those in agriculture and labour would only be felt if states were on board with the Central government in their implementation.

He also noted that the government’s Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, aimed at boosting the output of Indian companies, would only raise competitiveness if the accompanying tariffs raised by the government to protect domestic industry were eventually done away with.

“If we want the PLI scheme to deliver competitiveness … it needs to be combined with a sell-by date at which point, tariffs go away … and it needs to be combined with the requirement that the firms that invest in those particular products export them,” said Forbes, noting that the requirement to focus on exports would force competitiveness on firms.

Opening vaccine distribution to private sector

Shobana Kamineni, executive vice-chairperson at Apollo Hospitals, said the move to open up Covid-19 vaccine distribution to the private sector was a welcome one, but added that a central authority to regulate distribution may be necessary. “We (private sector) don’t want to be in competition with the government and (there should not be) state government’s saying that anything you supply is only for me,” she said.

The Central government has announced that 50 per cent of new vaccine supply would be made available to the private sector for distribution from May 1.

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