Inter-ministerial group to decide on basmati exports to cut delays

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 28 2012, 09:24am hrs
Matters concerning export of basmati may from now be decided by an inter-ministerial group, comprising agriculture and commence ministries. The move being contemplated is to ensure quick decisions to help exporters not lose out in the global market due to delays in policy making.

Sources tell FE that officials from commerce and agriculture ministries, in consultation with industry representatives, will be empowered to decide on fixing the minimum export price (MEP) of rice, and other related issues.

Earlier, a panel of an empowered group of ministers (EGoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was the decision-making body on the aromatic rice.

As EGoM decides on macro policy issues, henceforth the inter-ministerial group would taking a call on issues associated with basmati exports, an official told FE.

At present, MEP on onion is also decided by an inter-ministerial committee.

This move would certainly help exporters as a meeting of the concerned inter-ministerial committee can be commenced at a short notice, All-India Rice Exporters Association president Vijay Setia said.

While basmati exporters have been demanding reduction in MEP since October last year, a final decision could be arrived at only earlier this month when EGoM approved reduction in MEP to $700 per tonne from the earlier $900.

Meanwhile, the government last week notified reduction in MEP for the rice which is expected to boost exports. Sources said due to delay in the lowering of MEP for basmati, India lost ground in the global market as Pakistan, which does not follow any MEP regime for the export of the aromatic rice, got an edge.

Thanks to a bumper basmati harvest and depreciation of the rupee against the dollar in the past one year, the price realisation from the exports of the aromatic rice variety has fallen from $1,100 to $700 a tonne in the global market.

Amid this scenario, India had more to lose because of higher prevailing MEP. As of December, Indian exporters were supplying rice from last years carry-forward stocks as old stocks command better price in the global market. After

December till date, they have been unable to execute the orders.

The MEP was introduced a few years back to ensure that the non-basmati variety is not exported as basmati.