Commission agents in Punjab vexed over flat rate prices

Punjab government comes in support of agents; says deviation from the existing policy could cause serious disruption

Commission agents in Punjab are vexed over the flat rate commission provided by the Central government for the purchase of wheat in the last rabi marketing season, contrary to the statutory norms of 2.5% of the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

The Punjab government has come in support of the commission agents and has cautioned the Centre that any deviation from the existing policy could cause serious disruption to the upcoming paddy procurement process.

“There is anger among the arthiyas [commission agents] against the Central government. We want the Centre to stick with the earlier mechanism of paying 2.5% commission instead of a flat rate commission. If our demand is not met we will be forced to protest. We will soon hold a State-level meeting and decide a strategy,” Amritpal Singh, president of the Punjab Arthiya Association’s Mohali unit, told The Hindu.

“Over the years, the ‘mandi’ [APMC] system in Punjab had worked in the interest of both the farmers and the commission agents. But now the Central government is attempting to dislodge the entire system, which is bound to be detrimental for us,” he added.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has also urged Union Minister for Consumer Affairs Ram Vilas Paswan to restore the commission of the arthiyas to the statutory norm of 2.5% of the MSP.

The Chief Minister, in a letter to Mr. Paswan, said the flat rate commission provided for the rabi marketing season (RMS) was contrary to the statutory norms of 2.5% of the MSP and urged the Union Minister to accordingly amend the provisional cost sheet for RMS, 2020-21. “As per the cost sheet, the arthiya commission has been allowed at a flat rate of ₹46 per quintal, which appears to be based on certain estimates of the actual expenditure incurred,” he added.

“Unrest is already brewing among the arthiyas over this issue, which, if left unresolved, has the potential of seriously disrupting the smooth procurement of paddy during the kharif marketing season, 2020-21,” the Chief Minister wrote.

He added that the existing practice of commission payable to the arthiyas is governed by the statutory provisions of the Punjab Agriculture Produce Marketing Act, 1961, and the rules framed thereunder. He said that Rule 24A of the Punjab Agriculture Produce Markets (General) Rules, 1962, mandates that this Commission shall be payable at the rate of 2.5% of the sale price of wheat-paddy.

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