No ban on private purchase of wheat: Pawar

April 7th, 2008 - 6:59 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Chandigarh, April 7 (IANS) The central government has not imposed any ban on the wheat purchase by private traders, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar clarified here Monday. “Where is the ban imposed? Please show me a copy of that order,” Pawar told a press conference after a meeting with the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana, Parkash Singh Badal and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, respectively.

Pawar said that reports of a wheat purchase ban on private players were untrue.

“I only want to say that we have got reports that certain private traders were going to farmers in villages and were offering Rs.5-10 more than the minimum support price (MSP - of Rs.1,000 per quintal). This is being done to avoid taxes. This is causing loss to the respective states in the form of taxes and the state governments should guard against it,” Pawar pointed out.

The minister said that the money collected as taxes on wheat sales was being used for rural road projects and a host of other facilities meant only for farmers.

Farmers’ organisations had recently said that the centre had banned farmers from selling wheat produce to private purchasers and that farmers were being forced to sell their produce to central and state government procurement agencies.

The organisations said this was being done as the government did not want a shortfall in the country’s buffer stocks. The central government has been forced to import wheat in the last two years at much higher rates to meet shortfall in the buffer stocks, they said.

“We don’t want to import wheat this time. That was done earlier only to overcome the shortfall in wheat stocks,” Pawar said.

He said that the Manmohan Singh government had hiked the MSP for wheat by 59 percent, compared to the 14.5 percent hike by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

Pawar said the current MSP of Rs.1,000 for wheat included bonus for farmers.

“I have got requests that more bonus be announced but I do not have the right to give bonus. I will put up the matter before the cabinet to decide on this issue,” Pawar said.

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