Industry demands customs duty hike on edible oil imports
Deepak Kumar| The Dollar Business Bureau
To stimulate vegetable oil and oilseeds sector, an industry body has come up with a number of suggestions, such as increasing customs duty on edible oil imports to safeguard farmers’ interest, for the upcoming annual Budget 2016-17. “We have sent the proposals on October 29 to the government and now we are pursuing the matter,” B V Mehta, Executive Director of the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA), told The Dollar Business. Domestic production of oilseeds has been declining in the last two years as farmers are no longer interested in growing the crop which has become un-remunerative. Shortage of raw material and capacity utilisation have further devoid the industry of gaining production and productivity, thus making the industry less competitive in the global market. The industry body emphasised the need to increase overall productivity of oilseeds and vegetable oils by promoting diversification of land from food grains to oilseeds, increasing productivity of oilseeds, encouraging oil palm cultivation and utilising non-traditional domestic sources. To fulfill the domestic requirements of raw material, the Association said imports of oilseeds, oilcakes and rice bran should be encouraged by reducing the import duty to a reasonable level. It suggested some measures, such as importing oilseeds at lower duty, importing oilcakes and rice bran at nil duty, increasing overall availability of raw material and exporting all edible oils in bulk without MEP (Minimum Export Price), and urged the government to list them in the Union Budget 2016-17. “It is heartening to note that the government has announced 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 14 sectors including oil palm plantation. This is most welcome step,” the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) said in a statement, referring to the recently-announced FDI regulation. However, the association noted that in order to encourage FDI in oil palm plantation, the government should declare oil palm as a plantation crop and exempt the 2 million hectares identified as suitable for oil palm plantation from the Land Ceiling Act. “I am sure, if this is done, we will have a flow of FDI in the oil palm plantation to meet the growing requirement of edible oils in the country in years to come,” SEA said.
November 24, 2015 |5:20pm IST