New Delhi :After a gap of eight years, government today imposed 10 per cent import duty on wheat till March 2016 to curb inward shipments at a time when there is excess domestic stock.
The move is expected to help the government fetch about Rs 90 crore.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley laid a copy of the notification on the decision in the Lok Sabha, saying it seeks to “impose basic customs duty of 10 per cent on wheat till March 31, 2016 under Section 159 of the Customs Act 1962.
“The estimated revenue implicate of the above exemption is revenue gain of about Rs 90 crore in the remaining part of the year”.
Imports are happening despite bumper domestic wheat output in 2014-15 crop year and surplus stocks with the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains.
As world’s second biggest wheat grower, India has a huge stock of over 40 million tonnes of the grain, of which more than half is of poor quality grain procured this year.
Private traders are importing wheat on lower global prices and lack of high-quality grain in the domestic market needed for use in fast-food industry.
They have already contracted 5,00,000 tonnes of wheat from Australia for the first time in a decade. After imposition of import duty, it looks unlikely that traders would be interested to contract more wheat.
FCI has procured 28.08 million tonnes of wheat this year, of which 26.62 million tonnes have been purchased under the relaxed quality norms because the crop got damaged due to unseasonal rains early this year.
The government is keen to sell off on priority basis the wheat which was procured under the relaxed quality norms through ration shops, welfare schemes and open market sales.
Wheat production in India is estimated to have declined to 90.78 million tonnes in 2014-15, as against the record production of 95.85 million tonnes during 2013-14.
Still, the government has a huge stock of wheat due to bumper procurement this year and carryover stock from the previous years.