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Govt to consider import duty on wheat on record output

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said that the government will, next week, consider the imposition of import duty on wheat and partial lifting of the two-year ban on export of non-basmati rice.

"We will review in the next empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) meet on whether or not to impose tax on wheat imports, and will discuss allowing export of some particular varieties of non-basmati rice," Pawar told reporters here.

The eGoM on food is likely to meet either on July 23 or 24, Pawar said on the sidelines of an ICAR award ceremony.

The minister said that some states have requested the ministry to allow export of a particular variety of rice produced in Kerala as there is a high demand for the same in Gulf countries.

In April 2008, the Centre had imposed a ban on non- basmati rice exports to cool down food inflation, which is currently hovering around 12.81 per cent.

He also said that the eGoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, would discuss increasing the allocation of foodgrains to states under the Open Market Sales Scheme (OMSS) and also consider reducing prices in states where lifting is poor.

Despite a record production of wheat in the 2009-10 crop year (July-June) and the presence of huge stocks in government godowns, the eGoM had earlier deferred a decision on imposing import duty of 40 per cent on wheat due to high inflation.

India produced a record 80.98 million tonnes of wheat in 2009-10, surpassing the previous year's record of 80.68 million tonnes.

First Published: Fri, July 16 2010. 13:14 IST