New Delhi: The cabinet committee on economic reforms (CCEA), set to meet on Thursday, is scheduled to take up a slew of measures including trading in wheat futures, bonus on paddy and measures to make transport companies liable for the goods.
Transport companies may be held fully liable for any damage or loss of goods transported by them as part of a series of measures that the government plans to bring in to make the carriers more accountable.
According to the amendment suggested to the Carriage by Road Bill 2005 by the the road transport ministry, if goods are damaged or stolen during transit, transporters would be liable to the extent of the goods carried by them and as declared by the consignor. As of now, transporters only have a limited liability.
The amendments would also mandate that all goods transport companies in India would have to register themselves with the regional transport authorities. “The carriers would be made responsible for the cargo that they move,” said a senior official in the road transport ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Another expert in the transport industry said that data gathered from all the transporters across the country will be collated by the research department of the road transport ministry so that the government will have a better understanding of freight movement across the country.
The Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2005 but was referred to a standing committee. Another issue that the cabinet is expected to clear is the hedging in wheat.
The government had earlier set up an empowered committee to consider trading in wheat derivatives. The committee was looking at taking hedging exposure in options or futures in the Chicago Board of Trade, the leading global commodity futures exchange. Trading in wheat futures will help India import wheat without bearing the brunt of international price fluctuations.
The cabinet is also likely to announce, in advance, the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy for the forthcoming kharif season. The bonus announced on wheat last month is expected to be extended to paddy. Food ministry officials note that while the paddy crop enters the market in September, the MSP was announced in advance last year also.
With rising food prices being a big concern with the government, it is believed that the cabinet is also expected to discuss measures to enhance procurement of paddy.
Yet another issue that the cabinet is likely to take up include State Bank of India (Amendment) Bill, 2006. SBI has seven subsidiaries and the Bill aims to allow it to dilute shareholding upto 49% from the current level of up to 45%.