File photo of a Kerala rubber farmer; image of the letter from Piyush Goyal | Photos: Mathrubhumi, CPM
Thiruvananthapuram: Amidst the Syro-Malabar Church heads promising BJP help to end its jinx in Kerala regarding Lok Sabha members from the state if it hiked the price of natural rubber to Rs 300 per kilogram, the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Thursday said the union government has already "abandoned rubber farmers.”
Citing a letter from union commerce and industries minister Piyush Goyal, CPM said the minister stated that the import duty on natural rubber will not be hiked and a minimum support price (MSP) will not be announced for the cash crop.
“Left MPs had met with Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal last month and given a representation demanding that the Union Government intervene to support the struggling rubber farmers. That no such support will be given is confirmed by the official response,” CPM tweeted.
It also shared Goyal’s letter addressed to Rajya Sabha MP Elamaram Kareem, dated March 15, 2023. In the letter, the minister described the union government's actions to "promote domestic production of natural rubber and keep its prices buoyant."
The government had increased the duty on import of dry rubber and also reduced the period of utilisation of imported dry rubber under the advance licensing scheme from 18 months to 6 months, the letter stated.
“Port entry for import of Natural Rubber has been restricted to ports at Chennai and Nhava Sheva (Jawaharlal Nehru Port) (since January 2016). Further, in the Union Budget 2023-24, the rate of custom duty on compound rubber has been increased from 10% to 25%,” the letter read.
However, the letter clarified that tariff concessions granted under the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement“ cannot be withdrawn unilaterally.”
“Natural rubber is excluded from tariff concessions under AITIGA (ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement). As regards, compound rubber, the largest imports in compound rubber are under HS code 400510 which is duty-free under AITIGA,” it reads.
The letter also stated that an MSP cannot be imposed on rubber since it is not an essential commodity.
“The Government of India, presently, fixes Minimum Support Price (MSP) for 25 agricultural crops. Crops considered under MSP are generally major agricultural commodities which are widely grown and have large area under cultivation, are generally items of mass consumption with fairly long shelf life or/and are necessary for food security. As Natural Rubber does not fulfil most of the criteria for inclusion under MSP, hence, it is not included in the mandated crops for MSP,” it reads.