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Cabinet approves amendment to Essential Commodities Act: Key decisions

Union minister Prakash Javadekar (Photo: ANI)

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday announced amendment to the historic Essential Commodities Act which has been acting as a hindrance to investment. The Cabinet met for the second time this week for taking key decision to give a boost to the the economy which has been battered by the ongoing Covid-induced lockdowns.
Briefing the media after the meet, which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union ministers Prakash Javdekar and Narendra Tomar said the decisions will benefit farmers and transform the agriculture sector.
Here are the key points from the briefing:
* Cabinet has approved historic amendment to the Essential Commodities Act. It was enacted at a time of scarcity, now there is no scarcity: Javadekar
* The Act has been acting as a hindrance to investment. This hanging sword has now been put to an end. A 50-year-demand of farmers has been fulfilled today: Javadekar
* While India has become surplus in most agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, processing and export as the entrepreneurial spirit gets dampened due to hanging sword of Essential Commodities Act.
* Commodities like anaj, oil, onion, potato have been removed from under the Essential Commodities Act. This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference: Javadekar
* Government approved setting up of an Empowered Group of Secretaries (EGoS) & Project Development Cells (PDCs) in ministries/departments for attracting investments in India: Javadekar
* Centre has allowed farmers to sell their produce at a higher price guarantee based on mutual agreement. This will strengthen supply chain, it is for the first time that India has taken such a decision: Javdekar
* The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector.
* The amendment will however be subject to regulations in situations of war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity.
* Government approved ordinance to give farmers, traders freedom to sell and purchase farm produce: Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar
* Farmers have been freed from shackles of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act. They can now sell their produce anywhere and have the freedom to sell to whoever gives them a better price. This is a move towards ‘one nation one market’: Javadekar
* The amendments announced will help both farmers and consumers while bringing in price stability. It will also prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities: Agriculture minister
* The Cabinet also approved ‘The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020’ to ensure barrier free trade in agriculture produce.
* The Ordinance will create an ecosystem where the farmers and traders will enjoy freedom of choice of sale and purchase of agri-produce. It will also promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations.
* The ordinance also proposes an electronic trading in transaction platform for ensuring a seamless trade electronically.
* The decisions will go a long way in helping India’s farmers: Tomar
* To empower farmers to engage with processors, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers and exporters, Cabinet approved ‘The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020’.
* The Ordinance will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor and also enable the farmer to access modern technology and better inputs. It will reduce cost of marketing and improve income of farmers.
* Farmers will engage in direct marketing thereby eliminating intermediaries resulting in full realization of price. It will act as a catalyst to attract private sector investment for building supply chains for supply of Indian farm produce to global markets.
* Cabinet approved renaming of Kolkata Port Trust as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Trust: Prakash Javadekar
* Cabinet approved establishment of Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H) as subordinate office under ministry of AYUSH

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