The Rajya Sabha passed the Essential Commodities(Amendment) Bill 2020 which was also approved by the lower house on September 15, by a voice vote in Rajya Sabha.
Key Features of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020
The Bill requires that the imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise.
A stock limit may be imposed only if there is:
- 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce;
- 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items.
The increase will be calculated over the price prevailing immediately preceding twelve months, or the average retail price of the last five years, whichever is lower
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Regulation of food items
The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 empowers the central government to designate certain commodities such as food items, fertilizers, etc. as essential commodities and regulate its production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce, for securing their ‘equitable distribution’ and ‘availability at fair prices’.
The Bill provides that the Central Government may regulate the supply of certain food items including cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils. This power can be exercised only under “extraordinary circumstances” like (i) war, (ii) famine, (iii) extraordinary price rise and (iv) natural calamity of grave nature.