Agriculture Ministry not happy with duty free import of wheat

Wheat

New Delhi, December 13: Agriculture Ministry is not amused by the Centre’s decision to waive off duty from wheat imports.

Despite the bumper wheat crop in 2015-16, the government on December 8 announced duty free imports “without an end date”and the official in the Ministry said that the move is surprising amid the bumper produce last year.

The sowing of Rabi crop is on and farmers have already planted 225.63 lakh hectares (lh) area under wheat till December 9 which is more than compared to 202.28 lh during the same period last year.

The Ministry official said to the media: We have no role in the decision (to permit zero duty imports). The Consumer Affairs and Food, Commerce and Finance ministries are the ones that have pushed it, saying this was necessary because of domestic prices flaring up.

He also said that our focus is on production and farmers. The other ministries, especially Consumer Affairs and Food, are more concerned about rising market prices. They feel imports are required, especially given low government wheat stocks that may encourage hoarding and speculation.

The duty-free wheat makes the domestic wheat expensive as compared to imported wheat. As per the Department of Consumer Affairs data, the decision was necessary to meet keep a check on the price and hoarding.

Wefornews Bureau

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