'Restrict import of areca from Bangla, SAARC countries'

The Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd (CAMPCO) President Konkody Padmanabha has urged the Union government to restrict import of arecanut from Bangladesh and other SAARC countries.

Speaking to presspersons here on Saturday, he said that according to the Union Commerce Ministry, India’s import from Bangaldesh in terms of value jumped to Rs 321 crore in 2011-12 from Rs 18 crore in 2008-09. Arecanut worth Rs 24 crore was imported during 2009-10 and Rs 116 crore during 2010-11.

He wondered how Bangladesh, which was a non-arecanut growing country, could export such a huge quantity of arecanut to India. Import details indicated that arecanut was being pushed to India through Bangaldesh from Indonesia, he alleged.

The Campco president urged the Centre to impose an import cap to help domestic arecanut growers. As per the Agreement on SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA), free trade is allowed between SAARC countries. By producing country of origin duplicate certificate, arecanut from Indonesia and other countries is being imported to India through Bangladesh. The illegal entry of arecanut has caused a huge loss to the country’s exchequer, he added.

He said a delegation of Campco had met Directorate General of Foreign Trade Anup Poojari and urged him to keep a vigil on the import of arecanut. The minimum tariff rate for imported arecanut should be increased by 40 per cent for one kg of arecanut (Rs 115). The forthcoming budget should hike import duty on arecanut by 150 per cent, to check the import from SAARC countries.

He said that the Centre should provide subsidy for the mechanisation in arecanut farming.

DTC opposed

The Campco president said that Co-operative institutions are against a move by the Centre to include them under the ambit of direct tax code (DTC). If implemented, the institutions will have to shell out 33 per cent of their revenue as income tax. The move will sound death knell on the co-operative institutions.

He described the move to include co-operative institutions under DTC as retrograde. The move of the Centre will force many of the smaller cooperative societies to shut down completely.

“Cooperatives should be kept out of the direct tax code. The income tax exemption that is being provided should be continued. The Union government has proposed that co-operative societies be brought under the Direct Tax Code. The exemption which the societies enjoy under 80 (P) of the IT Act should be continued,” he added.

A delegation comprising of representatives from Campco and MPs from arecanut growing districts will meet Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to discus on check on import of arecanut and on DTC.

Campco Vice President Sathishchandra Bhandary, Managing Director M Suresh Bhandary were present.

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