Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan says they may review import duty on wheat
NEW DELHI: Food and Public Distribution minister Ram Vilas Paswan has said that the government will take all necessary steps to ensure payment of minimum support prices (MSP) to farmers and may review the import duty on wheat if required.
“Wheat imports has touched 55 lakh tonnes till date. With domestic wheat crop to be harvested from March , we may review to increase import duty on wheat if required,” he said adding that he has yet to write a letter to the Finance ministry in this regard.
Since 2007 till 2015, there was no import duty on wheat . It was imposed in December of 2015 and by December 2016 it was again brought to zero to increase its availability in domestic market. “Sowing of wheat grew by 7% and the wheat production is expected to be 965 lakh tonne according to the second advance estimate. Out of this, the Food Department has set the procurement target at 330 lakh tonne for the ensuing rabi marketing season 2017-18,”added Paswan.
He informed that in a span of around 2 months, 40 lakh tonne wheat has been imported and another 15 lakh tonnes has been contracted. “It has been experienced when there is price-rise the benefit is taken by the traders and consumers are exploited. However, when fresh crop hits the market prices fall and the farmers have to take the loss. We want to ensure that farmers get remunerative price,”he said.
The Food minister said that extensive preparations have been made for procurement operations and government will make necessary arrangements for payment of MSP to farmers. “Special attention has been given to the farmers of eastern states,”he said adding that the centre has framed a policy to transfer the MSP directly to the accounts of farmers in a transparent manner. “Government has increased the MSP of pulses and oilseeds considerably and there is steady increase in the MSP of paddy and wheat “he said.
Food ministry officials said that the average landed cost of imported wheat was Rs 1550 a quintal. “Even if you add in the transportation cost of Rs 150-200 a quintal , imported wheat is cheaper than domestic wheat – Rs 1800-1850 a quintal released under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS)to bulk buyers from the Food Corporation of India godowns,”he said.
Tejinder Narang, former director of state-run trading company PEC, said that the government should take a decision one way or another and not keep trade in uncertainty?
Source: ECONOMIC TIMES