Source: Business Standard, Sept 23, 2016
New Delhi: The Centre on Friday cut import duty on wheat and potato to 10 per cent while reducing it by 5 per cent on crude as well as refined palm oils, to boost supplies and check prices during the upcoming festival season.
In a notification, the Central Board of Excise and Customs said import duty on potatoes has been reduced from 30 per cent to 10 per cent till October 2016.The import duty on wheat has been reduced from 25 per cent to 10 per cent till February 2017.
In case of wheat, the government has reduced the import duty despite higher domestic production at 93.50 million tonnes in the 2015-16 crop year (July-June).
The flour millers had demanded withdrawal of the import duty citing 5 million tonnes shortfall in the domestic output.
Hailing the decision, Roller Flour Millers Federation of India Secretary Veena Sharma said: “This will improve the supply and check price rise.”
Concerned over rising retail prices amid production shortfall, the government reduced the import duty on potatoes to improve the domestic availability.According to the official data, potato output has declined by 9 per cent to 43.7 million tonnes in 2015-16 crop year (July-June) compared with 48 million tonnes last year.
“Edible oil is not contributing to inflation. However, if the government was so much concerned, it should have reduced import duty only on crude palm oil and not refined palm oil,” SEA Executive Director B V Mehta told PTI.
He said higher duty difference between crude and refined palm oil would have encouraged domestic refining.India is heavily dependent on import of cooking oils and is all set to import record 15 million tonnes in the current 2015-16 oil year ending October.