A delegation of traders from Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) across the State will meet Cooperation Minister S.T. Somashekhar on Wednesday over the increased RMC market cess.
APMC traders observed a one-day bandh in all yards in the State on Monday and had plans to join the farmers’ stir on Wednesday. “We will meet the Minister now and decide on our course of action,” said Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, chairman, APMC Committee, Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
APMC traders had to pay 1.5% market cess on the sale of agricultural produce, which was passed on to the buyers. However, when the State government brought in amendments to the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act, 1966, allowing for private markets, traders opposed the amendments arguing that the market cess in APMC yards, not applicable to private markets, would make them lose out in the competition. APMC yards across the State observed a bandh in July, demanding the abolition of market cess and the introduction of 0.2% service charge for yard maintenance. The State government then slashed the market cess to 0.35% and APMC traders withdrew their strike.
However, the State government recently hiked the market cess again to 1%, triggering protests by traders. “We feel cheated by the government. When we opposed the APMC Bill, they reduced the market cess to 0.35%. Now that the Bill is passed and enacted as law, they have again increased the cess, going back on their word. Our demand is a uniform cess for both APMC and private yards to ensure a level playing field,” Mr. Lahoti said.