Mohamed Mijarul Quayes File photo: A copy of the payroll, obtained by bdnews The Transparency International, Bangladesh TIBan anti-graft watchdog, has called for punishment of those in the mission who were responsible for the financial irregularities. Now it is the job of ministries concerned to investigate them and punish the guilty," he said.
While containing a number of reform proposals designed to expand the scale of farming and facilitate agricultural land transfers, the plan fails to address the most important issue of all: The current program of universal farm-income support preserves the existing structure of agriculture by providing incentives to keep inefficient small-scale farms in business.
So if the government avoids the politically difficult decision to cut this program, the existing and new policy will be in conflict.
But if the government were to use farm-income support as an instrument of structural reform, by providing subsidies only to larger-scale farms, then this would be a powerful step in the right direction.
So far, direct income subsidies for farmers have been a baramaki pork barrelling policy to win the votes of farmers, the majority being small-scale producers, with 80 per cent managing two hectares or less.
His political instincts are perfectly attuned with those of the MAFF — maximise government spending on agriculture and preserve the handout mentality of subsidy-dependent farmers that pervades the industry.
These attitudes and associated policies ensure that Japanese agriculture — in the hands of an aging workforce cultivating tiny plots — continues to decline and exhibit very low productivity and international competitiveness. Moreover, the government continues to confuse industry policy for agriculture with social policy for the aged and rural dwellers.
Retaining the current income-support program while liberalising agricultural imports will have serious budgetary implications. There are also timing issues. In the meantime, Prime Minister Noda must deal with the immediate issue of whether or not Japan will join the Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP negotiations and the agricultural trade liberalisation implications of any subsequent decision to join the TPP itself.
Even five years seems too optimistic a timeframe for the reform plan.
The usual suspects are also campaigning against the TPP. Its profits on high-priced farm inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides are at stake, as are its marketing commissions on high-priced agricultural products which are a percentage of the selling price. JA represents yet another layer of expensive agricultural bureaucracy in Japan, financially burdening the agricultural sector and blocking all kinds of economic efficiencies for producers.
Moreover, anti-TPP groups are mounting a campaign of disinformation, taking advantage of widespread ignorance and uncertainty about what might be required of Japan if it did join the free trade group.
Scare-mongering and extremist rhetoric is common. And the rhetoric is getting through: More than two-thirds are first-term Diet members whose electoral prospects are the shakiest. Whether it will predominate remains to be seen.Create your own business plan Business planning has never been easier.
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