Finance Commission weighing incentives for states for farm reforms

These are among a plethora of stifling rules and regulations that have long hampered India’s progress in agriculture and, in turn, dented its farm export prospects. (Representational image)

These are among a plethora of stifling rules and regulations that have long hampered India’s progress in agriculture and, in turn, dented its farm export prospects. (Representational image)

Fifteenth Finance Commission chairman NK Singh on Wednesday said the panel was considering working out a model to incentivise those states that undertake credible reforms in agriculture by easing or removing damaging rules and regulations, highlighting the immense potential of the sector as a driver of exports.

Singh said the Commission was also weighing a proposal to grant incentives to those states that improve rail connectivity, “designed specifically for the promotion of exports”. He was speaking at a panel discussion, organised by the CII, following the release of the report of a high-level advisory group under noted economist Surjit Bhalla on ways to boost exports.

The Commission’s criteria for awarding states for reforms in agriculture could include their proactive approach towards reviewing the archaic APMC law and the long-term land-leasing rules. Also, bolstering the ecosystem for enforcing contracts (where India ranked an abysmal 163rd among 190 countries in the World Bank’s latest ease of doing business ranking) should be a key area of focus, according to Singh. These are among a plethora of stifling rules and regulations that have long hampered India’s progress in agriculture and, in turn, dented its farm export prospects.

The Commission, set up in November 2017, is gearing up to finalise its recommendations for the devolution of taxes and other fiscal matters for five years, starting April 2020.

Speaking on the need to change the mindset of people, including policymakers, about the urgent imperative of enhancing exports to sustain economic growth, Singh joked that while he had met heads of 27 of the 29 states in the course of gathering inputs for shaping the Commission’s recommendations, not even one of them dwelt upon the subject of exports in particular.

[“source=financialexpress”]