Government considering raising wheat import duty
The government is considering raising import duty on wheat from the current 20 per cent to discourage cheap shipments and give positive price signals to farmers in the ongoing rabi season.
Harvesting of the wheat crop has begun in some states like Gujarat and will pick up pace after the Holi festival.
"There is no concern about wheat production. Even if we reach at last year's level, that would be sufficient to meet domestic demand. We have enough buffer stock. But the issue is how we protect farmers and ensure they get at least the MSP," a senior government official told PTI. Wheat imports are not taking place even at 20 per cent import duty. Still, a proposal to raise customs duty on the grain is being discussed as the government does not want local prices to come under pressure during the peak harvesting period, the official said.
The government's main focus is to ensure farmers get at least the minimum support price "Therefore, we are weighing all options including raising import duty," the official noted.
It is not yet decided whether to raise the import duty on wheat marginally or double it. The issue will be discussed again during the week. As per the official estimate, there is 4.27 per cent drop in wheat acreage at 30.42 million hectare in the current rabi season of 2017-18.
While the industry is expecting fall in wheat production from last year's record 98.38 million tonne, the government is hoping it would be same at the 2016-17 level.
By BOA Bureau