KOTTAYAM: Kerala Congress (M) working chairman and Water Resource Minister P J Joseph has demanded the Union Government to increase the import duty of rubber under the safeguard duty provisions beyond the bound rate of 25 per cent.
He was speaking after inaugurating the indefinite hunger strike being launched by Jose K Mani MP, demanding the Centre’s intervention in addressing the crisis in the rubber sector.
According to him, import duty should be increased at least up to 70 pc, for a period of three years to bring up the general price level of rubber.
“As per the Agreement on Safeguards set forth the rules for application of safeguard measures pursuant to Article nine of GATT. Safeguard measures are defined as ‘emergency’ actions with respect to increased imports of particular products, where such imports have caused or threaten to cause serious injury to the importing member’s domestic industry,” he said.
“With increased imports and steep fall in the price of rubber, which nosedived from Rs 247 per kg to Rs 97 now, the domestic producers suffered serious injuries in their market. If the bound rate of tariff is increased from the existing 25 pc to 70 pc, the importers could not go ahead with their uncontrolled imports and will be forced to buy rubber from the domestic market. As many as three lakh farmers got the benefit of the Rs. 300 special package announced by K M Mani. However, there should be concrete steps to increase the general price of rubber,” he said.
K M Mani said it was unfortunate that the Centre has not taken a single step to contain the fall of rubber price. He added that an organised force has been taking steps against the unorganised farmers for more than 50 years.
“The organised sector has got upper hand among bureaucrats. The organised industrialists won in the fights against the unorganised farmers. The Government should shun its pro-industrialists stance and should take stance favourable to farmers,” he said.
KC (M) deputy chairman C F Thomas presided over. DCC president Tomy Kallani, Joy Abraham MP, MLAs Roshy Augustine, N Jayaraj, Mons Joseph, Ex-MP Francis George, Antony Raju, Joseph M Puthusseri and others also spoke.