THE GOVERNMENT on Monday waived the five per cent duty on import of wheat by private traders to ease pressure on bulk consumers. "Biscuit and bread manufacturers were facing problems. They can import wheat at zero-duty now till December," Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told the Hindustan Times.
A notification on his announcement, prompted by the gap in demand and supply, will follow soon. But traders said the move has come too late in the day, as high global prices would prevent big purchases.
D.P. Singh, chairman of the All India Grain Exporters' Association, said the zero-duty regime should have come three months ago when the government reduced duty from 50 per cent to five per cent. Given that international price is currently around US $220 per tonne, Singh does not expect imports by private players this fiscal to exceed 10 lakh tonne.
Why the move
India began importing wheat in March for the first time in six years to augment stocks because of a poor crop
Shortage led to a rise in the prices. Reports say they went up by more than 30 per cent in the past six months
Bulk consumers like bread and biscuit manufacturers too were facing problems