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Karnataka approves amendment to APMC

Opposition stages a walkout alleging the move to only benefit traders and not farmers

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The Assembly today passed an amendment bill, which the government said was necessary to carry out reforms in the agriculture marketing sector, even as the opposition staged a walkout alleging the move would only benefit traders and not farmers.

Opposing the bill, and members called for a wider debate and urged the government not to rush through it. They pressed for constitution of a joint select committee of the House to study the issues indepth and in an integrated manner.

Minister for Agricultural Produce Marketing and Horticulture Shamanoor Shivashankarappa said The Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013, provides expanded market access to the farmers and improved marketing processes for greater transparency and avoids delay in payment to farmers. According to him, the amendments propose exemption to be granted from payment of market fee on fruits and vegetables.

There is an anticipated revenue loss of about Rs 7 crore, once the bill comes into being. "However, because of the proposed reforms in agricultural marketing sector, by introduction of warehouse-based sales, single unified license to trades, and improved marketing processes, there is an expected increase in trade volumes and consequently increase of higher market fee collection. This should more than offset the anticipated loss," according to the amended bill.

Basavaraja Bommai, Lakshman Savadi, K G Bopaiah and C T Ravi (all BJP) and K M Shivalinge Gowda (JD-S) among others argued that the bill would only benefit traders and not farmers whose interests have to be promoted. They sought an in-depth study of the implications by a joint select committee of the House.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra said since the matter was restricted to the sector, there was no need for forming such a committee to study the issues. With the government not appearing to be budging, the opposition JD-S led by Leader of Opposition H D Kumaraswamy, and BJP led by floor leader Jagadish Shettar, trooped out in protest after which the bill was passed by voice-vote.

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