Even as the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has found that the multi crore fraudulent import racket of popcorn maize was on for the last eight years, the State Trading Corporation of India Limited (STC), which monitors these imports, seems to be unaware of it.
Importers have to import popcorn maize through state trading enterprises such as STC. In response to a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by Venu Akula, secretary of Popcorn Maize Growers’ and Traders’ Association, the STC said it has no information that the popcorn maize imported under actual users condition is being traded in the open market.
“As we know, the actual users are using the imported product, that is maize [corn], for which it is meant for,” the reply said. Chief general manager, STC, S Sarkar has signed the reply.
Popcorn maize imported under the actual users system cannot be sold in the open market.
It was following a complaint from the association, which has an office at Chikballapur in Karnataka, the DRI’s Mumbai unit raided 13 importers for allegedly importing popcorn maize without paying duty.
The DRI has recovered duty worth Rs18 crore from these importers.
The STC responded to one query saying the total quantity of maize (corn) it imported between April 2002 and June 2010 under the Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) is 17,947 metric tonnes.
To another query, it said the different departments in STC and its branches at port towns monitor the imports of all commodities under the TRQ, and the purposes for which they were imported.
Despite repeated attempts, NK Mathur, chairman and managing director of STC, who is at the corporation’s New Delhi office, refused to take calls.
AK Mahajan, branch manager of STC in Mumbai also refused to respond to phone calls.
The directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) issues licences to STCs and other state trading enterprises to import popcorn maize on behalf of importers who are actual users.
Lata Shukla, zonal joint director general of foreign trade, Mumbai, said if the DRI informs them about the case, they would look into it.
She refused to comment further saying the DRI has not taken the DGFT’s opinion.
Shukla said the DGFT also keeps a watch on importers so that import conditions are not violated.
She said popcorn maize imported under actual users licence cannot be sold in the open market.