Agriculture Expectations from Union Budget 2019: However, with the Modi government wanting to ensure that farmers don't go against the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections 2019, Union Budget 2019 presents a real opportunity for the ruling dispensation to address the issue.
Union Budget 2019 Expectations for Agriculture Sector: Farmers’ protests in last two years hit the headlines and became a powerful tool for the Opposition parties led by Congress to pinch Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with sharp rhetoric. The alleged anger among the agrarian society was evident in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur, streets of Mumbai, Maharashtra and even in Delhi. The BJP governments in Centre and states tried to douse the wrath by announcing farm-loan waivers and increasing the minimum support price (MSP) of Kharif crops.
However, with the Modi government wanting to ensure that farmers don’t go against the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections 2019, Union Budget 2019 presents a real opportunity for the ruling dispensation to address the issue. The Modi government has two options to opt for without being concerned about the fiscal implications of the move. Veteran journalist Harish Damodaran in a column in Indian Express has recommended two “pro-farmers” moves which won’t have any fiscal implications like that of income support and loan waiver.
According to him, in Budget 2019, which will be presented on February 1, the central government can scrap provisions laid down by laws under the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) and state-level Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) to provide the farmers with the right to sell crops to anyone they want at any time and in anywhere. This will ensure that there won’t be any ban on exports of farm produce like onion, potato, pulses, sugar or milk powder. Apart from this, no ban would be applicable to the limits on how much stocks a trader can keep at any particular time.
The second viable option he suggests that the government can exercise in Budget 2019, is that the Finance Minister can announce that farmers can be paid up to Rs 2 lakh per day in cash by traders and there would payment slip against that transaction. The Modi government in Budget 2017-18 brought an amendment in 40A (3) of the Income Tax (IT) Act and debarred cash payment above Rs 10,000 in a single day. The change of stance would increase the inflow of cash in mandis and subsequently help revive rural spending, Damodaran said.