The editorial, “Slipping on edible oil” (October 26) should receive attention from the commerce and finance ministries. Edible oils are essential consumption items in every Indian household and play a dominant role in keeping inflation down. There is an urgent need to curtail imports of edible oils and encourage domestic production.
The editorial rightly points out that more than 500 manufacturing units in the organised sector have been closed down, creating a gap between installed capacity and production. Indonesia and Malaysia have been seeking basic customs duty exemption for palm oil imports; however, the government has not obliged. Now that the commerce minister is in Latin America, countries such as Brazil, a major exporter of refined edible oils like sunflower oil and corn oil to India, ought to seek basic customs duty exemption or place these items under free trade agreement norms for a concessional rate of import duty.In August, the government did raise import duty on crude palm oil, RBD palm oil. Still, there is a need to raise import duty on crude sunflower oil and rapeseed oils on a par with crude soyabean oil to save the local industry and farmers. A Sathyanarayana, New Delhi
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