PIB News 14th Sep, 2020


 

(General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations, Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.)

Three bills aimed at transformation of agriculture and raising farmers’ income introduced in Lok Sabha today; to replace ordinances promulgated on 5th June 2020
Legislations will enable barrier-free trade in agricultural produce and empower farmers to engage with investors of their choice - Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar

Three bills aimed at transformation of agriculture in the country and raising farmers’ incomewere introduced in Lok Sabha today to replace ordinances promulgated on 5th June 2020–

  1. The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
  2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020
  3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020

Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar introduced The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, while Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Shri Raosaheb Patil Danve introduced The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the Lok Sabha.

Seeking permission of the Chair to introduce the Bills, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar said that the measures contained therein will enable barrier-free trade in agricultural produce, and also empower farmers to engage with investors of their choice. He said that these steps are only the latest in a series of measures taken by the Government, which shows its continuous commitment to championing the cause of welfare of the farmers of India.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 seeks to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers' produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce of farmers' produce outside physical premises of markets or deemed markets notified under various State agricultural produce market legislations; to provide a facilitative framework for electronic trading and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Background

Farmers in India suffered from various restrictions in marketing their produce. There wererestrictions for farmers in selling agri-produce outside the notified APMC market yards. The farmers were also restricted to sell the produce only to registered licensees of the State Governments. Further, Barriers existed in free flow of agriculture produce between various States owing to the prevalence of various APMC legislations enacted by the State Governments. This legislation is a historic-step in unlocking the vastly regulated agriculture markets inthe country. It will open more choices for the farmer, reduce marketing costs for the farmers and help them in getting better prices. It will also help farmers of regions with surplus produce to get better prices and consumers of regions with shortages, lower prices.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 seeks to provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Background

Indian agriculture is characterized by fragmentation due to small holding sizes and has certain weaknesses such as weather dependence, production uncertainties and market unpredictability. This makes agriculture risky and inefficient in respect of both input & output management. This legislation will transfer the risk of market unpredictability from the farmer to the sponsor and also enable the farmer to access modern technology and better inputs. It will reduce cost of marketing and improve income of farmers. Farmers will engage in direct marketing thereby eliminating intermediaries resulting in full realization of price. Farmers have been provided adequate protection. Effective dispute resolution mechanism has been provided for with clear time lines for redressal.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector.

Background

While India has become surplus in most agri-commodities, farmers have been unable to get better prices due to lack of investment in cold storage, warehouses, processing and export as the entrepreneurial spirit gets dampened due to Essential Commodities Act. Farmers suffer huge losses when there are bumper harvests, especially of perishable commodities. The legislation will help drive up investment in cold storages and modernization of food supply chain. It will help both farmers and consumers while bringing in price stability. It will create competitive market environment and also prevent wastage of agri-produce that happens due to lack of storage facilities.

 

(General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations, Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.)

Launch of virtual hearing in quasi-judicial cases under EPF & MP Act, 1952 heralds an era of providing expeditious and affordable adjudication
Launch of virtual hearing in quasi-judicial cases under EPF & MP Act, 1952 has now heralded an era of providing expeditious and affordable adjudication.

This is part of a series of initiatives taken by EPFO to improve the ease of doing business, a new facility for conducting virtual hearing in quasi-judicial cases by use of secure IT applications, which was launched by Sh. Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State (I/C), Labor and Employment in 227th meeting of Central Board of Trustees, Employees’ Provident Fund, conducted virtually on 9th September 2020.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and need to practice social distancing restrictions, virtual hearings are being conducted in most of the district and sessions courts. This is as per the guidelines of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and the concerned High Courts to ensure timely disposal of the cases during pandemic. In the same spirit and with a view to provide expeditious and affordable adjudication to its establishments and subscribers, hearings under sections 7A and 14B of Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, will be conducted in virtual mode.

Virtual court is a concept aimed at eliminating need for physical presence of litigant and lawyers by facilitating adjudication of the case through online mode.

To facilitate this, virtual hearing utilities have been integrated with EPFO’s  e-Court process on Compliance e-Proceedings Portal (https://eproceedings.epfindia.gov.in). This will facilitate issue of e-notices, real time recording of proceedings and communication of orders. Case status including the daily and final orders will now be accessible to all parties on the portal.

There are several benefits of hearing through video conferencing including no requirement of physical presence wherein parties do travel miles to be present in person for hearing and at the same time, it will be cost and time effective for the employers. Most importantly this will reduce carbon footprint. Digitization will reduce the number of pendency of cases and will be an effective remedy for delayed justice.

In addition, unnecessary adjournments due to non-appearance of parties could now be avoided resulting in fast tracking of dispute resolution and assessment of dues of workers to generate better confidence in the quasi-judicial mechanism. Hearing in online mode is a move towards the ultimate objective of faceless assessment.

The launch was made after successful pilot run of the same at two regional offices of EPFO in the months of July & August, 2020. During the pilot run, virtual hearings were conducted through online meeting utilities in 90 quasi-judicial cases, which were attended by higher management of establishments leading to quick disposals, consent orders and immediate compliances. Employers have appreciated the ease and convenience of participation in virtual hearings particularly during pandemic.

EPFO is continuously making endeavors to use the latest trends and technologies by effectively harnessing its in-house capabilities to extend nirbadh i.e. seamless services to stakeholders during Covid-19 pandemic.


 










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