Budget 2023-24: Himachal Apple Growers ‘Disappointed’ With no GST Cut
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Shimla: The Union budget for 2023-24 failed to meet the aspirations of apple growers in Himachal Pradesh as there is no mention of import duty on the fruit as well as reduction in GST, according to an apple growers' association.
Apple growers are sore as the 18-28% GST (goods and services tax) on packing material, agriculture tools, pesticides, fungicides, drip irrigation and poly houses has not been reduced and there is no mention of hiking import duty on apples, President, Fruit Vegetable Flower Growers Association, Harish Chauhan told PTI on Wednesday.
The hike in allocation of horticulture mission to Rs 2,200 crore in the present budget from Rs 1,900 crore in the last budget is marginal and it should have been raised to at least Rs 4,000-5,000 crore, Chauhan said.
The apple economy in Himachal is worth Rs 5,000 crore and 2.5 lakh families are directly dependent on it, says apple growers associations.
“We had high expectation from the budget and had apprised the Union Finance minister about our demands during the pre-budget discussions but nothing concrete has emerged”, he said and added that even the Kisan Samman Nidhi (Rs 6,000 per annum) has not been increased and on the contrary, the Agri sector has been taxed to negate the benefits of Samman Nidhi.
The budget has made provision of Rs 20 lakh crores loans to the farmers but we do not need loans and demand waiving loans/interest in one time settlement to free the farmers from the debt burden, he said.
He, however, welcomed global hub for millets (Shree Anna Yojna) and digital crop planning scheme.
The Himachal Kisan Sabha has also described the budget as disappointing as the demands of apple growers to increase import duty on apples from 50% to 100% and implementation of Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) on the lines of Kashmir by fixing support price for grade “A” grade B and C at Rs 60, Rs 44 per Kg and Rs 24 per kg, respectively, have not been met, said president of the Sabha, Kuldeep Tanwar.
“The budget has failed to address the major demands of the apple growers but focus on high end horticulture is a step in the right direction but so far the details of the scheme are not available. The subsidy for small and medium farmers for cold storage and other facilities is appreciable, said Lokinder Bisht, president of the Progressive Growers Association.
The apple growers in the state under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Manch (SKM) had agitated against the increase in GST leading to increase in input cost on packing material and other issues last year. The agitation also had an impact on the Assembly polls held in 2022 as it became one of the election issues.
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