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Fin Comm forms group to devise ways to incentivise states for agri reforms

New Delhi, Jun 26 (PTI) The Finance Commission on Friday decided to form a group to devise a mechanism to incentivise states for carrying out the agricultural reforms announced as part of the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package.

A decision in this regard was taken by 15th Finance Commission Chairman N K Singh in a meeting with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and senior officials of his ministry.

The group's views will be included in the Commission's final report for the period 2021-26, an official statement said.

The group consists of Finance Commission member Ramesh Chand, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal and Agriculture, Research and Education Secretary T Mahapatra.

The group has been set up 'to devise mechanism for incentivisation of states in areas of agricultural reforms agenda for the purpose of inclusion in the Commission’s recommendations in its final report', it said.

The discussion in the meeting covered recent agriculture related reforms including barrier-free trade and amendment to the Essential Commodities Act announced as part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 lockdown.

The meeting also held discussions on the framework/ recommendations given by the Commission in its report  for 2020-21 regarding performance grants to states for agricultural reforms, the statement said.

The Agriculture Ministry made a detailed presentation on recent steps taken by the government for upliftment of the sector and also on the implementation and budget requirement of the ministry for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26.

Earlier, the Commission had also constituted a Committee on Agricultural Exports under the chairmanship of ITC Chairman and Managing Director Sanjeev Puri. The committee discussed some key points on farm exports and said India exports 70 per cent of its agriculture value to 20 countries. There are still opportunities to export more to Europe and the US.

'While India imports over USD 20 billion in agriculture products, it still maintains a significant trade surplus of USD 18 billion,' it said.

India's top 50 commodities and agriculture products make up 75 per cent of its total exports. The country has competitive advantage over other countries in agriculture as its diverse agro-climatic conditions creates diverse crop portfolio potential.

However, given the competitive edge, India is only ranked 11th globally in terms of agriculture exports, it added.

The 15th Finance Commission is required to submit two reports. The first report, consisting of recommendations for 2020-21, was tabled in Parliament on February 1, 2020.  The final report with recommendations for the 2021-26 period will be submitted by October 30, 2020. PTI LUX ANU ANU