THE decision to waive the 5 per cent duty on wheat imported by private players was notified today, after eight days of confusion.
The waiver will remain in effect till December 31, 2006. The notification of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) came a day after Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the decision of the Cabinet Committee on External Affairs will be implemented “as and when we are told that the final tender (of State Trading Corporation) has been issued”.
The Department of Food and Public Distribution, under Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, informed the finance ministry on Saturday that STC has finalised its wheat import contracts, leading to the abolition of duty. It is estimated that private players will import 10 lakh tonnes of wheat in the next four months to help ease wheat prices in the domestic retail market.
The STC has selected four international suppliers for importing 16.7 lakh tonnes of wheat. They are Australian wheat major AWB, Switzerland-based Glencore and Rotterdam-based Concordia and Toepfer. “We have finalised four companies for our fifth round of global wheat import tender,” an STC official said. The price band for wheat supplies at different ports is US $223.75 to $237.9 per tonne.
While Glencore has been asked to supply 6.8 lakh tonnes, AWB won the contract for 6 lakh tonnes, followed by Toepfer for 2.6 lakh tonnes and Concordia,1.35 lakh tonne. Until now, STC has contracted 55 lakh tonnes during this year to augment the government’s buffer stock.