If the state government reduce the market fee it charges from the commission agents operating from different sabzi mandis of the state, it can provide some solace to the consumers, who are coping up with the spurt in prices of vegetables and fruits, especially onions. The state government charges 4% market fee from arhtiyas on the business they do, which is highest in the country.
Arhtiya's pay market fee weekly to the Punjab government, where 2% is given to market committee and other 2% is collected under the rural development fund.
In Punjab, there are a total of 145 market committees and Bathinda has nine. In 2012, one market committee of Bathinda collected a revenue of `1.44 crore from sabzi mandi at an average of `12 lakh per month.
Onions are grown in dry areas and Punjab, but most of the demand is met by importing the commodity from states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Damage to the crop in some states has imbalanced the demand and supply cycle, leading to spurt in its prices.
In the wholesale market of Bathinda, onions were available at `54-55 per kg in first week of October. In second week, it came down to `48-50 per kg and shot up again to `55-56 per kg in the third week.
In the retail market, onions were priced at `60-65 per kg in the first week and went up to `70-75 per kg in the second week. Currently the per kg rate of onion is `75-80.
Keeping inflation in mind, many states have cut down their market fees to provide some solace to the consumers, but Punjab government is yet to do the same.
President, arhtiya association, Sabzi Mandi, Bathinda, Bhim Chand, said, "Punjab government charges maximum market fees as compared to other states. Keeping the price rise in mind, many states have cut down the market fee. In Rajasthan, market fee has been cut down by the government from 1.60 5 to .1%. Haryana government has brought down the fee from 4% to 2%. Market fee in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh is already less than 1%. Delhi government also charges 1% fee."