In a major reform shuffling the list of commodities under the essential commodities umbrella, the Parliament of India passes the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 removing commodities namely – cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. The Bill was passed on September 22 by the Rajya Sabha. Earlier, the bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 14, 2020, by the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Danve Raosaheb Dadarao and was passed by Lok Sabha on September 15, 2020.
Prior to this, the bill was introduced in the parliament by the Minister of State Cosumer Affairs on June 5, 2020 to replace ordinances promulgated. The recently passed EC (Amendment) Bill 2020 aims to remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector. It will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernization of the food supply chains.
The Government, while liberalizing the regulatory environment, has also ensured that the interests of consumers are safeguarded. It has been provided in the Amendment, that in situations such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity, such agricultural foodstuff can be regulated. However, the installed capacity of a value chain participant and the export demand of an exporter will remain exempted from such stock limit imposition so as to ensure that investments in agriculture are not discouraged.
(With Inputs from PIB)