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Formula to determine import duty on agricultural products soon.

Date: 02-11-2017
Subject: Formula to determine import duty on agricultural products soon
NEW DELHI: The government will soon come out with a formula to increase or decrease import duty on agriculture commodities and to allow export or restrict it by fixing a benchmark price.

If wholesale market price goes below that, import will be restricted by hiking the duty and export will be allowed. Similarly, if the wholesale price goes above the benchmark price then export will be restricted and more import will be allowed by lowering duty, along with fixing stock limits for traders to check hoarding.

The decision for finalising the formula was taken at a meeting of an informal group of ministers headed by Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday, which was attended by agriculture minister Radhamohan Singh, consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan and top officials from Prime Minister's Office and finance ministry. The departments concerned will prepare the formula, said officials who attended the meeting.

An official said the group agreed that the benchmark price would be 20% more or lower than minimum support price (MSP) for any agricultural commodity. Any breach of this by wholesale price will call for intervention by the government in terms of import or export restriction.

MSP, which is assured by government to farmers, is fixed every year for 24 commodities and main items are rice, wheat, pulses and oilseeds. Data presented before the panel on oil seed prices showed how the prevailing market prices of ground nut, soyabean, sunflower and mustard have been below MSP. But, there has been substantial increase in import of crude palm (15%), refined palm (23%) and crude sunflower (58%) in January-July, 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. Similarly, import of soyabean seed has increased by 64% in the same period.

"In such case, import duty should be increased to protect domestic farmers. It's no different in case of arhar and masur dal where market prices have crashed below MSP and import of peas, chana and masur have gone up," said an official. Sources said representatives of PMO suggested to officials of other ministries that they need to balance the interest of consumers and farmers as well, while making policies.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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