Farooq slams Modi govt for reducing additional duties on US apples

Srinagar, Sep 12 (UNI) National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday slammed the union government for the tax waiver on several United States products including apples, and walnuts and threatened to hit the streets if it is not rolled back.

“When the concessions were announced during the G20, it wasn’t thought what impact it would have on our economy. Not only J&K but it will also affect Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” Abdullah said here.

Last week the Union Finance Ministry, in a notification announced the removal of additional duties on several US products including chickpeas, lentils (masur), apples, walnuts in shells, and fresh or dried almonds, as well as shelled almonds. The notification came a day before US President Joe Biden’s arrival in India for the G20 Summit.

Abdullah alleged the Union government to appease the US wanted to finish the local growers

“Horticulture is the major economy of J&K. To appease the US, they want to finish the local growers. I appeal to the Government of India to not take a step that would increase the poverty that is already here and we get stuck in another crisis…If they don’t make it easy for the people, we will take to the street and protest,” the Member of Parliament said.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who on Monday urged the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision, on Tuesday alleged that the move was aimed at destroying J&K economy.

“J&K has been going through a tough time for the last 30-40 years and the fruit industry is an industry which kept J&K alive all these years… And I think (reducing the additional duties on US products) is being done deliberately,” she said.

The Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) also voiced profound concern regarding the decision to remove a 20% duty on apple imports from the United States.

JKPC said the government’s foremost priority should be to safeguard the interests of local apple growers and farmers.

In a statement,JKPC Senior Vice President Abdul Gani Vakil said apple cultivation holds an integral position within the state’s agricultural landscape, playing a pivotal role in our economy and providing livelihoods to numerous farming families.

“..Our apple industry has already been facing immense hardships for the last 5 years with COVID and weather vagary has resulted in huge losses. This move will further aggravate the problem and put our growers at a disadvantage”, he added.

Apni Party’s General Secretary, Rafi Ahmad Mir, expressed grave concern over the Union Government’s decision.

He said the move would adversely impact apple and walnut growers in Kashmir, as well as growers in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Mir urged the Union Government to reconsider its decision.

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