Condemning the Central Government’s “arbitrary” decision to delink the arhtiyas’ (commission agents) commission from Minimum Support Price (MSP), Punjab Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu on Friday said that this “unfair practice” will create hindrances in ongoing smooth procurement process in the entire country.
Taking up the matter strongly with the Union Government to pull back this decision, Ashu said that at present, two and half percent commission is paid for services rendered in connection with sale and purchase of agriculture produce under Rule of Punjab Agriculture Produce Markets (General) Rules, 1962.
“The arhtiyas’ commission in Punjab is part of statutory charges, so it cannot be delinked from MSP till the provisions under Rules are amended by the legislature. Decision in this regard is arbitrary for want of recommendations of Committees of Arthiyas and Labour Charges of Food Corporation of India (FCI). Meeting could not be convened by the FCI to decide the State-wise rate due to Covid-19 pandemic leading to complete lockdown or curfew as such in the present circumstances,” he pointed in his letter to the Union Food Minister.
Ashu, in the letter, said: “You are aware, State is already passing through financial constraints due to Covid-19 pandemic and the same is the case with arthiyas. They have made remarkable efforts in ensuring hassle-free procurement despite constraints during curfew. They also followed health protocols about sanitization of mandis and labourers and spent massive amount for this purpose. Due to their efforts ongoing procurement process is running smoothly.”
Decision in this regard should be revoked considering the previous practices as the situation demands more incentives to all stakeholders because the state of lockdown or curfew creates difficulties for them, he pointed
Meanwhile, the Arhtiyas Association president Vijay Kalra also met the Cabinet Minister and raised the issue. He demanded that this issue should be taken up with the Centre and Union Food Ministry and interests of arhtiyas should be secured.