New Delhi, May 28 IANS | 5 months ago

Adequate and timely supply of fertilisers to all farmers for the upcoming kharif season is his first priority, new Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Ananth Kumar said Wednesday.

"The present government intends to place the farmer at the centre of the agriculture sector, the village and the country's economy", Ananth Kumar told media persons here on the occassion of taking charge of his ministry.

Emphasising that policies will be framed to make the country self-reliant in fertilisers, he said the government also plans to revive all closed urea plants.

He said the ministry would work to reduce costs of about 400 medicines by over 25 percent so as to make these generic and essential medicines easily available to the poor.

Ananth Kumar has been elected to the Lok Sabha from the Bangalore South constituency in Karnataka. He has earlier been a cabinet minister in the Vajpayee government.

Listing their expectations from the new government, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Wednesday called for reviewing the free trade agreements (FTAs) signed by India with other countries. These have not benefited the industry, it said.

"Free trade agreements have not resulted in any advantage to Indian chemical industry, while other countries that signed FTAs with India have benefited much more. It is suggested that a detailed study be conducted to examine the impact of FTAs and they may be reviewed as required," said Nadir Godrej, chairman - CII National Committee on Chemicals, and managing director, Godrej Industries, in a statement.

India has the potential to be a chemical hub, and to achieve the industry's potential the government should take steps to ensure availability of key feedstock at competitive prices, CII said.

The ministry should also encourage investments in economic sized units with appropriate technologies to address environmental issues, the statement added.

"Government should expedite swift implementation of GST (Goods and Services Tax) to lower transaction costs and avoid cascading of taxes," the industry lobby said.

"Involvement of states in policy formulation should be encouraged, eg central government constituted empowered committee of state finance ministers led to smoother and faster VAT implementation," suggested Godrej.

(Posted on 28-05-2014)

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