The DoF does not import urea at its discretion. There is well-designed scrutiny of the proposals to go for any lot of imports.
By RC Joshi
Apropos of Modi must not give up on fertiliser DBT (FE, Jan 13), there are two main agricultural seasons. The fertiliser requirement (including of Urea) for a season is determined by DAC&FW in consultation with representatives of the states/UTs agriculture department before the beginning of a season and communicated to DoF.
Before the beginning of each agricultural season, the Steering Committee of Secretaries (SCOS) comprising of secretary (Fertilisers) as chairman, chairman Railway Board, secretary (Commerce), secretary (Expenditure), secretary (Agriculture) and secretary (Shipping) as its members (AS&FA, DoF is also a special invitee to the Committee), consider the requirement of Urea for the season determined by DAC&FW, projected indigenous production and expected UOTA imports. Based on this analysis, it decides the overall quantity of urea to be imported by the government in a season, and authorises department of fertilizers to determine the timing, quantity and STE to import urea on government account, as and when necessary, for ensuring adequate availability of urea.
DoF is responsible for ensuring adequate and timely supply of fertilisers. In order to bridge the gap between the assessed requirement for an agricultural season as determined by DAC&FW and the indigenous production of Urea plus imports under Urea off-take Agreement (UOTA) of GoI with OMIFCO, the department of fertilisers imports urea on government account. At present, as per DGFT Foreign Trade policy, import of urea for agriculture purposes is a canalised item and can be imported only through the State Trading Enterprises (STEs) as notified by DGFT from time to time. Currently, MMTC, STC and RCF are the notified STEs.
Since the mandate of DoF is to ensure adequate and timely availability of fertilizers, In this regard, to bridge the gap between the requirement and indigenous production of urea plus imports under UOTA of GoI with OMIFCO, the department of fertilisers imports urea on government account. The concerned STE’s are authorised on rotation basis to procure imported Urea for DoF through competitive bidding process.
In the present context, since STEs are PSUs, they must adhere to all other directions on tendering & procurement to ensure international competitive bidding & prices.
The DoF does not import urea at its discretion. There is well-designed scrutiny of the proposals to go for any lot of imports. Ascribing discretion and vested interest to DoF functionaries show lack of appreciation of efforts by them in ensuring timely supply of fertilisers to the farming community.
The author is ADG (media and communication), Chemicals &fertilisers ministry, PIB