The Union cabinet on Thursday fixed the minimum support price (MSP) for barley, gram, masur, rapeseed, mustard and sunflower but failed to decide on wheat owing to differences between agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and food minister KV Thomas.
An official release said the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) approved increases of up to 20% in the MSP for five rabi crops for 2013-14 but decided to hold further consultations for wheat.
The new MSP for barley is Rs980 a quintal (unchanged), for gram Rs3,000 a quintal (up from Rs2,800), masur (lentil) Rs2,900 a quintal (Rs2,800), rapeseed/mustard Rs3,000 a quintal (Rs2,500) and safflower Rs2,800 (Rs2,500).
A source said a fresh cabinet note would be prepared for wheat. During the meeting, Pawar batted for farmers and sought a steep increase in the MSP, but Thomas opposed his proposal . The commission for agricultural costs and prices (CACP) had wanted the MSP for wheat frozen at last year’s level of Rs1,285 a quintal considering the huge stock in the central pool.
In his proposal placed before the CCEA, Pawar sought an MSP of Rs1,400 for wheat on the grounds that the CACP had not factored in the subsequent increase in diesel price of Rs5 a litre.
Thomas, however, opposed Pawar’s recommendation, asserting that it would result in an additional subsidy bill of Rs5,000 crore and lead to an increase in consumer prices.
The cabinet, meanwhile, approved amendments to two labour laws to improve the employment, working condition and welfare of construction workers. It decided to introduce the Building and Other Construction Workers Related Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012, in the winter session of Parliament by amending the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, and the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996. The amendments relate to streamlining the process for registration of construction workers.
In another major decision, the cabinet committee on security (CCS) agreed to create a separate category of ex-servicemen for the central armed police forces (CAPF) like the Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Sashastra Seema Bal. However, unlike armed forces personnel, retired CAPF personnel will not be entitled to any reservations.