Jaitley: We cannot compromise livelihood of small farmers, limit our food security programme

The Bharatiya Janata Party has come out in support of the Centre’s move to oppose the peace clause during the WTO negotiations.

The Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has said the peace clause is not in the interest of the country.

Jaitley said the clause in its current form is not acceptable. “We cannot compromise on the livelihood of millions of subsistence farmers in India. We cannot accept any limitations on our food security programme. India should persist with its demand for a ‘Food Security’ Box which would protect on a permanent basis price support to farmers (MSPs) and food subsidy to millions of vulnerable Indians,” Jaitley said.

The G-33 submissions in the negotiations in Geneva at the WTO contain the peace clause. The final outcome of this round of negotiations would be decided in the ministerial meeting at Bali in the first week of December.

Jaitley said the proposed peace clause would exempt subsidies in excess of the 10 per cent limit for a period of just four years. “The total subsidy under the Food Security Act in India may exceed the 10 per cent limit in the very first year given the current level of Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) and the subsidised rates under the Food Security Act (FSA),” he added.

Jaitley added that India needs to comprehensively protect these subsidies on a permanent basis if there is to be sincere and meaningful food security for Indians.

“This peace clause seeks to provide only a semblance of protection for a period of four years. Our food security programmes would still be exposed during this period to punitive action under the Agreement for Subsidies and Countervailing measures. This may force India to substantially limit the food security programme immediately. The much-hyped food security for Indians would eventually come to a naught in just four years if this peace clause is acceded to,” he said.

(This article was published on November 27, 2013)
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