Farmer’s leader and MP Raju Shetti opposed the Maharashtra government’s decision to impose Rs 50 area development tax or three per cent of the total purchase price per tonne of sugarcane from farmers.
The decision to collect the tax was taken at a meeting chaired by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
“Earlier, the sugarcane purchase tax used to be five per cent on the purchase of per tonne of sugarcane. Post-GST, it was abolished. Therefore, the government has now chosen another route in the form of area development tax on the farmers,” Shetti said.
The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader said the tax is in violation of the governments promise that there would not be any additional taxes apart from the GST.
“The area development tax is expected to garner around Rs 400 crore. Earlier, the sugarcane purchase tax was never used for any development purposes and I have no doubt that even the funds to be collected from the area development tax will be utilised somewhere else,” he said.
Shetti had recently snapped ties with the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra, accusing them of being anti-farmers.
“The government is aware of the fact that prices of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, farm equipment and locally made tractor-trolleys used for sugarcane transport have gone up in the post-GST regime. The charges in the name of area development fund are nothing but adding insult to injury,” Shetti said.
“The state government had accepted the Rangarajan Committees recommendations for sugarcane sector, which had laid down revenue-sharing formula between farmers and sugar mills at 70:30,” he said.
“However, the state government has never implemented it. This is injustice to farmers that the recommendations which are aimed at increasing their income are deliberately ignored, while additional taxes are imposed,” he alleged.