The Congress has vehemently opposed the Gujarat Agricultural Produce Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
The party believes the amendments would lead to shutting down of half of the 224 APMCs in Gujarat.
Alleging that the recommended changes deal with the elections for the associations that oversee the functioning of APMCs, the Congress also said that small traders and commission agents run the risk of not getting elected.
“Your party has been in power in the state for the past 30 years. The Keshubhai Patel government did not find any fault with it (Act). Neither did successive governments of Narendra Modi, Anandiben Patel or Vijay Rupani. After so many years, you suddenly realised that you need to smoothen the functioning and management of APMCs? What is the reason for such a sudden realisation?” asked Amit Chavda, leader of Congress Legislative Party, was quoted as saying by a daily.
Chavda alleged that the BJP leaders nearly manage all APMCs. “Are you bringing these changes to target your own people (in the APMCs)? The Bill states that for a trader to get elected to the APMC, he or she should have paid a minimum of Rs 50,000 as cess fees to the APMC for three consecutive financial years. If you look at the Sojitra APMC, the annual revenue is about Rs 30 lakh. In such a case, how can we expect a trader to pay fees amounting to Rs 50,000. Won’t this provision deprive a small trader or a commission agent of his right to fight elections?” he told the newspaper.
Congress leader Arjun Modhwadiya has held that the changes will lead to winding down of 50% of APMCs in the state.
“Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Patan, Amreli, Botad, Gondal, Deesa and Kadi are some of the larger APMCs. There are several other APMCs like Upleta, Dhoraji, Porbandar, Khambhaliya, and others who are struggling to survive and barely have money to pay salaries of their employees. Farmers in our district (Porbandar), take their produce to APMCs in Gondal and Rajkot as the smaller APMCs are unable to offer remunerative prices. Instead of trying to handhold APMCs, you have brought amendments that will eliminate small APMCs,” Modhwadiya said.
Even Umesh Makwana, AAP MLA from Botad, endorsed the view that the amendment would impact small traders.