New Delhi: Ahead of General Budget, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday sought exemption of excise duty on farm machineries and interest free short term crop loans to small and marginal farmers.
He also demanded income tax exemption to those involved in agriculture, dairy, fisheries and other subsidiary activities besides raising the support price of farm crops by 50 per cent of the production cost.
After discussing these issues with the Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Badal said, "Agriculture and agriculturists are in a bad shape today. We have sought several measures including implementation of the BJP party's election promise on MSP issue."
The Minimum Support Price (MSP) for agricultural crops should be raised by 50 per cent of the production cost as suggested by the committee headed by M S Swaminathan, he told reporters after the meeting.
The MSP regime of procurement must continue to ensure continued food security and "any change in this may lead to unrest among farmers," he said, adding that the centre should procure other crops like maize and provide financial assistance to encourage crop diversification in the state.
Besides the MSP issue, Badal also discussed income tax and excise duty relaxation to strengthen agriculture sector and urged the Union Agriculture Minister to take up these issues with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
He demanded that "exemption of payment of central excise on all agricultural implements including combine harvesters and their parts, should be recommended to the Ministry of Finance."
Badal also sought income tax exemption to those involved in agriculture, dairy, fisheries and other allied activities, reintroduction of income tax exemption for state and central cooperative banks, and interest free crop loan for small and marginal farmers.
"Recommendations should be made to the Finance Ministry for capital infusion to state cooperative banks of Rs 150 crore and to revise norms for relief for crop damage due to natural calamities," he said.