Derek O’Brien speaks on statement by Minister regarding India’s stand on WTO | Transcript

Sir, I am very nervous today because I have been inspired by my friends of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar today from the BSP, SP and JD(U) to try to speak a little in Hindi, so I may make some mistake you must not laugh.

Sir, Bharat ne Bali me jo hasil kiya tha wo WTO samasya ka adha solution tha, pura nehi. Kyun ki dash pritisat subsidy cab ke ulanghan kar ne ke immunity sirf char sal ke liye di geye thi. Ab immunity par samay ki pawandi nehi hay lekin ye bhi sampuran samadhan nehi hay. Jab iska pura hal nikal ayega or domestic support ke liye naya formula apnaya jayega to Bharat ko WTO ke liye kuch aur concession dena hoga ki nehi dena hoga, that is the question.

While the Government and the earnest and hard working minister has seemingly helped improve the Bill for Bali, the current situation let it be said has been on the Table since it raid flag in the summer. But it stopped halfway. And my question is why didn’t it raised for final solution, something it had argued for and agreed to endorse the TFA.

Sir, on a serious note, short term gain but long term pain. I have two specific questions on the short term gain and long term pain. The first question for the Government is that the TFA will enhance the developed countries’ access to the Indian market, we know that. India is losing out in competitiveness in all product lines as there has been a hollowing out of industries. My straight question to the Minister is, please tell us how is the TFA going to impact growth in the manufacturing sector?

And my second clarification is to do what the Minister said and I quote: “Continuing the minimum support programme is the lifeline for millions of our low income resource farmers. We have a right to distribute food to the poorest to the poor.” Then I have to ask the Minister, what about the MGNREGA? What about cutting back subsidies for petroleum products, cutting educations subsidies, cutting health subsidies, cutting all sector expenditure?

So, I am totally confused. They have to clarify this. On one side they make statements about distributing food to the poorest of the poor and on the other side they cut all the subsidies.

I will end, Sir, with a nice appropriate quote by Hon’ble Arun Shourie, made three or four days ago. “When all is said and done, more is said than done”. What will the Minister have to say about her statement in relation to this statement? Thank you.

Sukhendu Sekhar Ray asks for clarity on Minister’s statement of India’s stand on WTO | Transcript

First of all I am going to submit that this should not be taken as a criticism or opposition to government’s policy but it should be treated as a concern because I think it is a national concern. With the advent of WTO and the way the economic expansion of the developed countries are being perpetuated through WTO it is very difficult for developing countries like India to withstand the onslaught.

Anand Sharma who was the Hon’ble Commerce Minister tried to make some headway but not to the extent it was intended to. Similarly even after doing overtime, the Hon’ble Commerce Minister Sitaraman ji, the expected result is very much gloomy.

Sir, I am giving two or three points – The present Agreement with USA is an improvement over the WTO Agreement at Bali. There are many issues remaining which are not good for India. For instance, the formula for calculating public stock holding for food security is unreasonably loaded against the developing countries. As rightly pointed out by Mr Tyagi, the 1986-88 prices are used while we are in 2014.

Since 1986-88, the prices of food grains have gone up many folds. Now the Government of India pays Rs 1400 per quintal to farmers for procurement of wheat and price for food grains, which was Rs 385 in 1985-86. Then what will be the consequences? It will be assumed that the Government is giving subsidy of Rs 1050 subsidy per quintal of wheat. There is a need to change the WTO rules but this price mechanism cannot do.

My second point is, Sir, the member countries through process of consultation have the right to scrutinize the food programmes of India or for that matter any country. So, the member countries will invade into India and this have fallout on the price mechanism and in case of any breach the same could be disputed. All these provisions of the agreement clearly suggest that internal policy matters of India will be subject to foreign scrutiny and hence adapt to an erosion of our sovereignty. This is highly objectionable.Sir, it is a matter of grave concern for us that India’s sovereignty will be compromised in that way.

Third point, Sir, the final draft agreed in Bali mandated developing countries to ensure various measures of trade facilities. Now, Sir, it is unfortunate that no cost assessment has been made by the Government about implementing provisions of trade facilities. By providing trade facilitation, imports from rest of the world will flood India, further worsening the already difficult external payment position. This is another area of concern for India.

Finally, in reality this agreement by the BJP Government has eroded the sovereignty of the nation on one hand and put a ceiling on the freedom of future regimes to any such food security programme. The entire money will be cut from the point allocation to health, food and other sectors that will be adjusted with trade facilities agreement.

Therefore Sir, I would appeal to the Hon’ble Commerce Minister to clarify this point in this august House so that the nation can have a clear picture on this issue.