The Chandigarh administration is all set to exempt fruits and vegetables from taxes levied under the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act to check rising prices of these perishable commodities.
At present, wholesalers charge market fee at 7 per cent of which 2 per cent goes to the administration. During last financial year, the administration earned around Rs 5 crore as revenue from its share of market fee.
The move has been made following directions from the central government to wave off market fee on fruits and vegetables.
The government is also considering to compensate the loss of revenue during initial period to the states/UT on this account.
In a recently held meeting of secretaries, the UT adviser directed deputy commissioner Mohammed Shayin to issue notification for exempting fruits and vegetables from the APMC Act at the earliest.
The market fee has direct bearing on the retail prices of fruits and vegetables. The administration has received several representations from city residents in the past one year for putting a check on rising prices of fruits and vegetables.
Surinder Kaur (66), a retired schoolteacher, said, “The ever-rising prices of essential commodities have made things difficult for everyone, especially for those with limited financial resources. The administration should take charge and ensure that the city residents get essential commodities at reasonable rates.”
When contacted, the UT adviser said they had received directions from the central government and they were in the process of framing a policy which would be put before the UT administrator for approval.
Arhtiya association opposes move
With wholesalers set to incur loss from waving off the market fee on fruits and vegetables, the Mandi Arhtiya Association has objected to the move.
The administration had invited suggestions from the association on the exemption of the market fee. Balbir Singh, chairman, Sabzi Mandi Arhtiya Association said: “We strongly disapprove of waving off the market fee as the decision will hurt the wholesalers. We have intimated the administration about this.”
Sources said different associations were exerting pressure on the administration for not implementing the directions of the central government.
Tomato prices double over the past week
An erratic monsoon with heavy rainfall in Himachal Pradesh, scanty showers in the south of the country and consistent rise in diesel prices leading to a rise in transportation cost have led to an increase in the prices of vegetables in the city by around 20% over the past week. The price of staples in any kitchen, tomatoes and potatoes, have risen by about 30%.
The vendors in Sector-26 vegetable market blame the scanty monsoon in the south and heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh, for the hike in prices and say that it is because of the insufficient supply that the prices, especially of tomatoes have seen a spurt.
Deepak Kumar, a wholesale trader in the market, said, “The monsoon has been erratic this year. At some places, there has been scanty rainfall and at others excess rain has taken its toll. Even otherwise, in this season, the new crop coming to the market is always more expensive. The hike in diesel prices is also a factor.” Besides tomatoes, the prices of peas, lemon and potatoes have seen a spurt.
“Due to heavy rain in Himachal Pradesh, the tomato production has been hit, resulting in the low supply,” a vendor said.