New Delhi : Under attack from farmer groups for falling prices, the government on Monday unveiled an ambitious agriculture export policy that seeks to double agri exports to $60 billion by 2022 and do away with arbitrary curbs on exports.
However, the policy found little support from experts who termed the target ‘highly ambitious’, given how exports had fallen from nearly $40 billion five years back to $36 billion in 2017-18. The aim to remove curbs on exports also didn’t find much traction. If previous experience is any indication, the government tends to clamp down on exports at the slightest hint of rising inflation, they said.
Aiming to push India into the list of the top 10 agri export nations, the policy has been backed by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said the policy ties in logistics support, a better trade regime, and states-led product development to connect farmers to global markets.
“Each state will have a designated department for promotion of agricultural exports, apart from cluster-based development for specific commodities. We have also identified several sea ports to serve as gateways for specific agri exports,” said Prabhu.
Despite India occupying pole position in global trade of these products, its total agri export basket still accounts for only a little over 2 per cent of world agri trade, estimated at a massive $1.37 trillion.
“Achieving an agriculture export target of $60 billion by 2022 looks ambitious, given the current global market conditions. More so, because India’s export basket largely comprises meat, marine products, and basmati rice whose demand in the world market is inelastic,” Gokul Patnaik, former chairman of Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, said.
graph Significantly, the policy mandates that the government finalise a list of essential agro-commodities. All commodities will see restrictions in the form of a minimum export price, export duty or bans revoked.
“This will help to stabilise export flows and stop friction between industries and the government every time production of a certain commodity fluctuates. Also, sudden changes in policy regarding shipment of onion, rice, wheat, oilseed, pulses or sugar have long-term impact on economic and foreign relations with many developing nations,” a senior commerce department official said.
On export ban on essential items, Patnaik said the world has moved away from a system of bans as people in importing countries want consistent policies. “Instead we should look at fiddling with tariff to protect farmers. Also, our response to sanitary and phytosanitary measures by importing countries is outdated and needs sprucing up,” Patnaik added.
Industry insiders also pointed to the fact that the largest exports will inevitably fall within the essential category. Case in point, cereals remain the largest category among agri products, currently totalling more than $8.1 billion, of which the staple grain of a majority of Indians – rice – makes up $7.8 billion.
India’s agricultural exports rose to $36.71 billion in 2017-18, after fluctuating over the previous two years. It had stood at $39.33 billion five years back. However, the government is hopeful of a fast pickup in the export growth rate as the cost of logistics falls and investments in back-end infrastructure such as cold chains.
RBI needs to ensure stability: Shaktikanta Das
New Delhi: The head of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said he would take the steps necessary to maintain financial stability in the country and help create favourable conditions for growth.
India’s economy has grown because of measures such as the nationwide goods and services tax and the insolvency and bankruptcy code that prevents wilful defaulters from bidding for stressed assets, Shaktikanta Das said in his address to an investor roundtable.
The country’s growth story is backed by its strong domestic fundamentals, he said, citing lower inflation.
Annual retail inflation rate dropped to an 18-month low of 2.19 per cent in December, strengthening the views of some economists that the central bank could ease monetary policy next month.
India’s top business groups on Thursday urged the central bank to cut its benchmark interest rate by at least half a percentage point and lower the cash reserve ratio it imposes on banks.
The country also needs to watch out for any sudden turbulence in the gloal financial market, Das said.
Centre removes two PNB executive directors for lapses in Rs 13,500-cr fraud
Chennai:The Central government has removed two Punjab National Bank (PNB) Executive Directors — Sanjiv Sharan and K.Veera Brahmaji Rao — for the lapses in the Rs 13,500 crore fraud allegedly perpetrated by absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi.
The PNB has intimated the action to the stock exchanges.
“We welcome the Central government’s action to dismiss the two Executive Directors. The scam of such proportions could not have happened without the knowledge of the top management,” C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), told IANS.
“Perhaps for the first time, the Centra has removed the Executive Directors of a nationalised bank under the Nationalised Banks (Management and Miscellaneous Provision) Scheme, 1970. All these days it was said the top management of government-owned banks — Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Directors — are governed only by the contract of appointment.
“It is also good that the central government has followed the due process of giving the two PNB Executive Directors opportunity to put forth their views before dismissing them,” Venkatachalam added.
According to the Central government’s notification, on July 3, 2018, Sharan and Rao were issued a show cause notice as to why they could not be removed from office for having failed to exercise proper control over the functioning of PNB, thus enabling the fraud through the misuse of SWIFT at the bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai.
After considering Sharan and Rao’s replies and the comments of the bank’s Board, the Centre removed them from office as it found it was expedient in the interests of PNB.
According to the notification, the dismissal of Rao is subject to the outcome of a plea in the Delhi High Court.
“We are happy to see some action being taken. Whether it is only the two Executive Directors and other officials are also involved in the scam has to be probed in full,” Venkatachalam said.
According to him, in the past, low-level officers would have been the scapegoats for such massive scams.
“With the action taken on the top management, people will be satisfied that public sector bank officials are answerable for their lapses,” Venkatachalam added.
In this new world, data is the new wealth: Ambani
Mumbai: Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps against ‘data colonisation’, specially by global corporations, stating that Indian data must be owned by Indians.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s movement against political colonisation, Ambani said India now needs a new movement against data colonisation.
“Gandhiji led India’s movement against political colonisation. Today, we have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonisation,” he said Gandhinagar at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.
Stressing that, in this new world, data is the new wealth, Ambani said, “India’s data must be controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporate, especially global corporations.”
He further said, “For India to succeed in this data driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India. In other words, give Indian wealth back to every Indian.”
Stating that the “entire world has come to recognise” Modi “as a man of action”, Ambani said, “Honorable Prime Minister, am sure you will make this one of the principal goals of your digital India mission.”
Later in the day, countering Ambani’s call, Governor – Commonwealth of Kentucky, Matthew Griswold, asked Modi “to think in the opposite” in order to realise the tremendous opportunity that lies in Indo-US partnership.
“Honorable prime minister you have been asked from this stage to think about limiting the amount of competition, limiting the exchange of ideas, information and goods. I would encourage you to think in the opposite,” he said.
While stating that it is important to put the people of India first, Griswold said, “It is also important to put their opportunity and our opportunity as citizens of the world to trade with one another and exchange ideas because iron sharpens iron.”
The greatest possibility comes from the exchange of these idea, he added.
“If we can cut the regulations, cut the bureaucracy, cut the red tape, the opportunity is enormous between our nations,” he added that India is now the 10th largest trading partner for the US and “climbing quickly”.
“The opportunity before us between India and the United States is incredible, but responsibility falls on each of one us, those of us in elected positions, those of you in the industry, those of you who represent various constituencies, we have much work to do…we must do this, ” Griswold said.