Govt truns Nelson's Eye to wheat import offer

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Dec 23 | Updated: Dec 24 2007, 07:31am hrs
The 330,000 tonne wheat import deal met its natural death as the State Trading Corporation of India (STC) failed to issue letters of acceptance to the parties.

The STC had invited global bids on December 10, this year for import of wheat through an open ended tender. The tender which was opened on December 17 found three bidders in the fray, namely Glencore, Cargill and Toepfer.

The three bidders assured to supply 330,000 tonne wheat at prices ranging between $ 359 to $ 479 a tonne. The delivery was to be made through eight ports in staggered shipments by April, 2008.

The STC was scheduled to issue letters of acceptance to these parties latest by December 22. "As no letters of acceptance has been issued to the parties, the deal is automatically deemed to be scrapped," said a senior STC official.

When asked about the reasons for non-issuance of letters, the official said :"The food ministry did not agree to import wheat at such a high price."

The government has imported 1.8 million tonne wheat in the current fiscal beginning April. It had plans to import 500,000 tonne to replenish its buffer stock.

In the previous fiscal year government imported 5.5 million tonne wheat against an average price of $ 205 a tonne.

This is the second time that the wheat import tender was camcelled this year. In May the wheat tender was cancelled due to high prices quoted. Subsequently in June, 2007 511,000 tonne wheat against an average price of $ 326 a tonne, In August 795,000 tonne wheat was imported against an average price of $ 389 a tonne. The fourth tender in the row was floated by MMTC which led to a purchase of 342,000 tonne wheat against an average price of $ 397 a tonne. The fifth tender in the row was floated by PEC which led to a purchase of 150,000 tonne wheat against an average price of $ 395 a tonne. The sixth tender floated by STC lapsed automatically on Deceember 22.