Palm oil industry demands separate import policy
The industry has also demanded a hike in the import duty on palm oil to 45% from the current 12.5% and sought for a budget of Rs. 10,000 crore for the sector The Dollar Business Bureau Ahead of the Budget for the coming financial year, the palm oil industry has asked the government to formulate a separate import policy to ensure a level-playing field for domestic palm growers and oil producers who have been battling cheap imports of edible oil triggered by the global demand slump. “There is a need for a separate palm oil import policy. This will ensure that import duty of palm oil can be increased to a level sustainable to the farmer/ industry. This will also ensure that other edible oil prices are not impacted, and thereby controlling inflation while pushing for domestic production of palm oil,” said Sanjay Goenka, President of OPDPA (Oil Palm Developers and Processors Association). The industry body has also demanded an increase in the import duty on palm oil to 45% from the current level of 12.5% and sought for a dedicated budget of Rs. 10,000 crore for the sector to encourage domestic production. “A separate budget allocation should be made by the government to palm oil industry specifically to promote domestic cultivation of palm oil,” OPDPA said in a statement. For quick redressal of concerns faced by the oil processing industry, OPDPA has suggested the formation of a separate oil palm development board, saying that such a board will help address issues on a priority basis. Other demands of the industry include the implementation of market intervention scheme in a manner such that it can help farmers in case of crop losses and steep price fluctuation, relaxation of land ceiling norms to allow large-scale plantation and explore opportunities following the opening of 100% FDI in the sector. “The current policies don’t allow companies to either acquire or lease land beyond an acre as defined by the urban land ceiling norms. Relaxation of land ceiling norms for oil palm growth will allow large scale plantation. The benefit of recently announced 100% FDI in palm oil can only be realised if ULC is relaxed,” Goenka said. The industry body also suggested allotment of secondary forest land to palm oil producers for reforestation and granting special status to northeast states for palm plantation. “The special status benefits should include logistic/ infrastructure support to the developers and additional farm amenities to the farmer. This will not only help the growth of oil palm industry but also leads to economic development of the region,” it said. To promote domestic manufacturing units, the industry has also demanded taxation relief and subsidies for palm oil producers, considering the long gestation period of such projects and high capital cost required for mill operators.
February 19, 2016 | 02:00pm IST