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India cannot reduce farm subsidy: Jaswant
September 13, 2003 15:47 IST
Attacking the developed nations for their stance on agriculture and market access, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh said on Saturday that India cannot bring down subsidies given to the farm sector as food security and welfare were more important to the country.
"Developed nations, which provide $320 billion worth of subsidies to their agriculture, are asking us to reduce subsidy and open up our markets. We can't do it," Singh said, referring to the tough negotiations at the ongoing Cancun meeting of World Trade Organisation.
In an interview to Doordarshan, he said the level of subsidy in developed nations was substantially high at almost $1 billion a day.
"If someone asks us to stop giving subsidies to agriculture, we will not listen to him," Singh said.
The finance minister said the Cancun meeting is not the totality of WTO and it (WTO) is not all of global trade.
"For India, agriculture is not a mere economic activity but a way of life. Our culture is linked to agriculture. We want subsidies to come down but at the same time we must ensure food security," he said.Referring to the "ship-to-mouth" era a few decades ago when foodgrains had to be imported to meet the needs of the masses, Singh said, "Now we are self-sufficient".
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