Govt hints at wheat import duty cut to rein in prices | India News

NEW DELHI: Amid concerns over rising wheat prices, the government on Friday said that it has several options to tame prices, including a reduction in the import duty, “if needed”. The statement comes on the day it announced the start of open market sale of wheat and rice, with a rider that none of the buyers will be allowed to export or give the purchased quantity to any state government agency.
The Centre has disallowed states from buying foodgrains from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) stock reasoning it was done to ensure enough stock of foodgrains to meet requirements and for market interventions to help curb price rise. The government has also imposed stock limits on retailers, big-chain retailers, wholesalers and the processors to curb hoarding. The FCI on Friday also floated the tender for auctioning 4 lakh tonnes of wheat under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) in its bid to check the prices.
Responding to a question about more steps that the government can take to check prices considering that the stock limit had no impact so far, FCI chairman and managing director, Ashok K Meena said, “All options are available with the government, including the reduction in import duty. These options are available and are under consideration, and if required and if the retail prices don’t decrease, then every possible measure available to the government will be employed.”
Currently, the import duty on wheat is 40% and this has been in force since April 2019. Sources said since the international price of wheat is close to the MSP and the availability is ample, reducing import duty would prompt private players to ship in the foodgrain.
The government has maintained that every possible step would be taken to keep the cereal prices under control. Besides wheat, the FCI will also offer 5 lakh tonnes of rice from the FCI stock in the first week of July. Meena said the FCI has 87 lakh tonnes of wheat and 2.9 crore tonnes of rice available over and above the normal requirement of all government schemes and the prescribed buffer requirement. “This much quantity is available with FCI which can be used for any purpose, It’s not for only OMSS,” he said.
While no limit has been set for the e-auction of rice, the government has given go ahead for auction of 15 lakh tonnes of wheat in the OMSS in the first phase.

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