Edible oil industry cautions govt on rising imports

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 28 2009, 04:19am hrs
Alarmed at rising edible oil imports, the industry on Friday warned that the country may have to ship about 15 million tonne of the variant a year in the next 5-7 years, if the government does not address the problems faced by the sector.

At the current rate of increase in imports, India may have to import close to 15 million tonne of vegetable oils annually, in the next 5 to 7 years, the Central Organisation for Oil Industry and Trade (COOIT) said in its pre-Budget memorandum.

The industry body warned that such high imports will make the country heavily dependent on exporting countries, which can dictate their own terms and prices in future.

It said imports of vegetable oils has increased by about 86% to 46.83 lakh tonne during November-May period in 2008-09 oil year from 25.22 lakh tonne in the year-ago period.

Pointing out that zero customs duty on crude edible oil is responsible for the high volume of import, COOIT has sought imposition of 30% duty on all crude edible oils and 40% on refined oils.

At present, zero duty is levied on crude edible oil and 7.5% on refined edible oil. Further, it said that the government could generate a revenue of Rs 7,500 crore at the current level of imports, if 30% duty on crude and 40% duty on refined edible oils are imposed.

COOIT also sought revision of tariff value, which has remained unchanged for almost three years, in accordance with the current market prices.

Further, it said the Technology Mission on Oilseeds should be revived without delay and this mission can be self-funded through import duties on edible oils.

Commenting on the prices, COOIT said the consumers must pay a realistic price for edible oils to consider the long- term interests of the oilseeds economy. The wholesale prices should be considered realistic, if they are Rs 50 per kg for crude oils and Rs 5 per kg for refined oils.

People below poverty line can always be helped through the PDS mechanism, it added.