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Budget 2018: Farm sector gets a boost but customs duty hikes to protect domestic market dampen reform spirit

Indian budgets are generally known for being as much statements of policy as much they are statements of government finances, and the recent Budget has adhered to this feature. Buried in the finance minister’s speech are several laudable as well as some not so welcome items that overturn existing policies.

Rural economy, farming get a boost

The first positive policy refers to the rural economy and agriculture, where the hurdle of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act is sought to be bypassed by strengthening rural haats as Gramin Agricultural Markets or GrAMs. Connected to the electronic national agricultural markets (e-NAM), GrAMs will be exempted from the regulations of APMCs, thus enabling farmers to sell directly to consumers and bulk purchasers.
With agriculture being a state subject, state governments have been reluctant to liberalise agricultural markets.

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