Import duty on rice scrapped till Sep 2010

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 29 2009, 04:55am hrs
The Centre has scrapped import duty on rice till September 2010 to augment domestic supply, as the twin-impact of drought and floods have deepened fears of a dip in output by as much as 16 million tonne this year.

It is notified that the customs duty (70%) on rice has been scrapped till September 2010, a senior official with the Central Board of Excise and Customs said.

A tax expert said the customs duty has been abolished for semi-milled or wholly milled rice, whether or not polished or glazed.

Sources had said in a meeting last month, the empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) on food, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, had recommended that the import duty on rice be scrapped.

The government had earlier allowed duty-free import of rice between March 20, 2008 and March 31, 2009 as part of its measures to control inflation. The customs duty was restored from April 1.

The latest move came after drought in about half of the country and subsequent floods in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karntaka ravaged the most important summer-sown crop--paddy.

Rice prices have already shot up by about 25% in the last four months on apprehension about production.

Earlier, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had said rice production could decline by 16 million tonne this year in view of drought and floods. India produced 99.15 million tonne of rice in 2008-09.

Though the government has piled up enough reserves of foodgrainabout 47 million tonne of rice and wheat till August-endit has scrapped the duty, as fears about a dip in procurement this year looms large.