The government on Monday unveiled a slew of measures like abolishing import duty on all crude edible oils, including palm and soya, and banning export of non-basmati rice and pulses to combat inflation that is at a 13-month high of 6.68 per cent.
All edible oils in crude form can now be imported at zero duty as against 20 per cent now (barring soya), while the duty on oils in the refined form and vanaspati would be 7.5 per cent compared to 27.5 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
The government also decided to raise the Minimum Export Price of Basmati rice to $1,200 per ton from $1100, to discourage export and increase availability in the domestic market. It also cut import duty on butter and clarified butter (ghee) from 40 per cent to 30 per cent.
Besides, the 15 per cent import duty on maize was abolished, applicable on import of up to five lakh tons. These decisions were taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Prices, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his official residence on Monday night.
The CCP approved the ban on export of non-basmati rice with immediate effect and decided to extend the ban on pulses export for one more year from Monday, Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after the meeting that lasted over three hours.
These decisions will come into effect from midnight on Monday, but a notification would be issued on Tuesday, he said. The Union Government also advised states to impose limits on stocks of commodities under the Essential Commodities Act, besides asking steel producers not to raise prices.
Asked whether these measures would help in containing inflation, which has touched 6.68 per cent for the week ended March 15, Chidambaram said: "I sincerely hope so."