AWB bids for wheat supply again

New Delhi, May 18 | Updated: May 19 2006, 05:52am hrs
Eight export houses including the Volcker scam tainted Australian company, AWB Ltd, Cargill and Glencore have made their offers to supply wheat to India.

Following the governments decision to import additional 3 million tonne wheat, the public sector undertaking State Trading Corporation (STC) floated a global tender on May 8, which closed on Thursday.

A senior STC official who did not want to go on record said: None of the eight exporters are prepared to supply the full quantity of 3 million tonne wheat and hence they are not in direct competition with each other.

The AWB Ltd has offered to supply 1.2 million tonne wheat, while others have offered to supply lesser quantities, he said.

Earlier in February this year, AWB Ltd had bagged a contract for supply of 500,000 tonne wheat, which is being imported in phases.

AWB Ltd has already come under the eye of a storm in the Parliament with the Opposition questioning imports at a high price at relaxed quarantine norms from a scam-tainted exporter, when wheat is available in plenty in the country. Besides the Indian subsidiaries of the global export houses are purchasing wheat in India for exports.

As per the new tender floated by STC in May 8 this year, the imports are to be staggered over a period of four months beginning July. STC has proposed to import wheat in parcel size of 30,000-50,000 tonne.

According to STC sources, the exporters did not specify the price band as this would be negotiated after the bids get technical clearance on the tender specifications. The technical clearance would be given by the health ministry.

Already a major relaxation in quarantine norms has been made to facilitate import of 3 million tonne wheat. When asked as to whether any further relaxation in quarantine norms would be made, the STC sources said: There would be no further relaxation of norms. We have already made specifications in the second global tender more broad-based than the earlier tender.

As per plans 1.5 million tonne wheat would be imported through sea ports along the eastern coast and the remaining 1.5 million tonne through ports located on the western coast. About 500,000 tonne would be imported in July, and 800,000 tonne each in August and September. The remaining 900,000 tonne would be imported in October.