Contesting Swambhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti’s claim that the Centre was not increasing the procurement prices of milk product prices because of its decision to import milk powder, BJP’s State Kisan Morcha president and former State Agriculture Minister Anil Bonde on Thursday denied that the Government had imported 10,000 tonnes of milk powder as was being alleged by Shetti.
Reacting to the recent statements by Shetti who had among other things said that the milk business in the state had been affected “because of the policies of the central government”, Bonde that Shetty was was spreading “false information” that the Central government has imported milk powder to cover up the failure of the Maha Vikas Aghaadi government to give fair procurement prices to milk producers,
“The BJP had recently staged a statewide agitation to draw the attention of the state government to the demands of troubled milk producers. Raju Shetti, who supports the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, also staged an agitation on July 21 for fair milk procurement prices.
Shetti had said that because of the import of milk powder by the central government it was not raising the prices of milk producers,”Bonde said.
Bonde said that it was mandatory under the GATT agreement to import 10,000 metric tonnes of milk powder as per the GATT agreement, no importer has been issued with expression of interest and no import license has been issued to anyone.
“Therefore, the claim that milk powder was imported is completely baseless and false. Similarly, no demand has been made by the importer for import of mustard, cotton seed and sunflower oil and no license has been issued for their import to anyone,” the state Kisan Morcha chief said.
Bonde said that according to the information provided by the Ministry of Commerce, the notification was issued by the Finance Department of the Union Government on June 23 regarding the goods to be imported to India under the GATT agreement. The WTO sanctions were ratified by Dr Manmohan Singh during his tenure as thePrime Minister.
“As per the GATT agreement, Government of India is required to procure 5 lakh metric tonnes of maize, 10,000 metric tonnes of milk and cream powder, 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of sunflower oil, 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of refined cotton seed and 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of mustard oil during 2014-2015 to 2019-2020,” Bonde said.
“After instructions were issued to this effect a rumour was deliberately spread that maize and milk powder were imported. NAFED and another organization were given license to import 5 lakh metric tonnes of maize. Although the license is valid till February 2021, these institutions have not yet imported the maize.
Shetty, whose organisation had staged an agitation last week to press its various demands, had said that his organisation was demanding an increase in milk procurement prices by Rs 5 per litre and the benefit to be directly deposited into the accounts of milk producers.
“Besides the cancellation of the Centre's decision to import 10,000 tonnes of milk powder, we are demanding an export subsidy of Rs 30 for milk producers and cancellation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on milk products,” Shetti had said.