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'No cut in farm subsidy'

Jaswant Singh said India can't bring down subsidies to farm sector as "food security & welfare are important for the nation."

business Updated: Sep 15, 2003 14:19 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Attacking developed nations for their stance on agriculture and market access, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh on Saturday said India cannot bring down subsidies to farm sector as food security and welfare were more important to the country.

"Developed nations, which provide $320 billion worth of subsidies to their agriculture, are asking us to reduce subsidy and open up our markets. We can't do it," Singh said, referring to the tough negotiations at the ongoing Cancun meeting of WTO.

In an interview to Doordarshan, he said the level of subsidy in developed nations was substantially high at almost $1 billion a day. Even for one cattle, the subsidy provided is to the tune of $2.

"If someone asks us to stop giving subsidies to agriculture, we will not listen to him," Singh said.

The Finance Minister, who met former Commerce Minister Arun Shourie on Saturday, said Cancun meeting is not the totality of WTO and WTO is not all of global trade.

"For India, agriculture is not a mere economic activity but a way of life. Our culture is linked to agriculture. We want subsidies to come down but at the same time ensuring food security is important," he said.

Referring to the "ship-to-mouth" era a few decades ago when foodgrain had to be imported to meet the needs of the masses, Singh said "now we are self-sufficient".

First Published: Sep 15, 2003 12:00 IST