The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 with provisions to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities was passed by Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on September 15, 2020.
The EC (Amendment) Bill 2020 aims to remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations, says Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. It will provide freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply commodities, and will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector or foreign direct investment into agriculture sector. It also intends to drive up investment in cold storages and modernisation of food supply chain.
The bill was introduced by the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Danve Raosaheb Dadarao in the Lok Sabha on 14th September, 2020 to replace ordinances promulgated on June 5, 2020.
Replying to the discussion on the Bill before it was passed by the Rajya Sabha today, Dadarao said that this amendment is required to prevent wastage of agri-produce due to lack of storage facilities. He said this amendment will create a positive environment not only for farmers but also for consumers and investors and will definitely make our country self-reliant.
The minister said that this amendment will strengthen the overall supply chain mechanism of the agriculture sector. It will also help to achieve the government's promise to double the farmer's income by promoting investment in this sector and promote ease of doing business.
The government claims that farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export as the entrepreneurial spirit gets dampened due to Essential Commodities Act. Farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities. The legislation will help both farmers and consumers while bringing in price stability, it said. The government believes that it will create competitive market environment and also prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities.
By Chitranjan Kumar