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SJM picks holes in Centre’ three farm laws

Swadeshi Jagran Manch, has warned the Narendra Modi government of “monopolistic” situation in Indian markets “where a single party will not only be able to exploit suppliers and farmers but also consumers” and suggested changes in FDI rules to block the entry of MNCs in retail sector. While stating that it believes the government’s intention in bringing new agricultural acts is “good”, it also proposed amendments in them “to overcome drawbacks in the acts. Plug shortcomings and allay the fears and doubts” and “remunerative MSP to farmers under law”.

A resolution passed at its All India convention said the intention of ‘The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020’ is seemingly that farmers get the right price for their produce in the absence of intermediaries.

“However, there is a doubt in absence of ‘Mandi Fee’ buyers will be naturally encouraged to buy out of the APMC markets. In such a situation it would be appropriate that when laws are being made and purchases are being allowed outside the APMC markets, minimum support price (MSP) is guaranteed to the farmer and purchases below the MSP are declared illegal. Not only the government, should private parties also be barred to buy at less than MSP.”

The resolution further said that “Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation), 2020 Act defines a farmer as a person ‘who engages in the production of farmers’ produce by himself or by a hired labour’.

This definition of farmer in the Bill is such that companies will also be included in the definition of farmer. Calling this “inappropriate”, the SJM said “definition of farmer should include only the farmer who engages himself in farming, not companies”.

Advocating “judicious dispute resolution mechanism” for farmers engaged in contract farming, the SJM said the ‘Dispute Resolution Mechanism’ proposed by the ‘The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020’, related to contract farming is very complex for the farmers”.  

“Already overburdened Sub-Divisional Magistrate has been placed in key role in dispute resolution. Due to this, it would be extremely difficult for the farmers to get justice in the event of a dispute. Establishment of Farmers Courts on the lines of Consumer Courts would be a plausible solution,” it said.

Meanwhile, in a hard hitting observation on corporates, another resolution said “Reliance Retail and Big Bazaar will dominate over other players in the multi-brand retail in physical format such as Dmart, Cromaetc and local kirana stores transformed into fulfilmentcentres for Jio Mart”.  

It cited Facebook’s investment in JioPlatforms; a company promoted by Reliance Industries Ltd, as an example and wanted such partnerships to be disallowed from operating in India.

“More than 38% of India’s retail market will be with Reliance Industries Ltd alone and some recent decisions and developments “would result in monopolistic situation where a single party will not only be able to exploit suppliers and farmers by making purchases at cheaper rates but will also be able to exploit consumers by offering goods at higher prices in the absence of competition in the market,” it said, asking for “change in FDI norms to block entry of MNCs in new retail format”. It urged the government to “examine critically the real impact of such development on the overall employment in the unorganised retail as well as on the consumers at large”. 

“Sale of medicines through e-commerce should not be permitted keeping in view the law of the land and its likely impact on health safety of the population and  FDI norms should be suitably amended to block the entry of MNCs in multi brand retail trade in India in any format directly or indirectly,” it said. 

“The government has restricted entry of MNCs in retail trade. FDI policy of the government has not permitted FDI in inventory model of multi-brand retail trade. However, to ensure that the sector makes use of the latest technological developments, it has permitted MNCs to operate in multi-brand retail sector with Market Place Model where they facilitate the local players to sell their products and to the consumers to buy the products online,” according to the resolution.



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