Government may scrap the 25 percent import duty on wheat if prices continue to rise, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday.
At present, import of wheat attracts a 25 per cent duty, which is applicable till June 30. Despite expected increase in production this crop year, the prices have shown a rising trend over the past few weeks.
“The government is keeping a close watch on wheat prices. So keeping in mind the recent rise in price trend of wheat, We can rollback the import duty on wheat. We dont want extra burden on consumers,” Paswan said.
He added that wheat procurement is so far down by 50 lakh tonnes to 229 lakh tonnes compared with 280 lakh tonnes in the year ago period.
In March, the government had extended the import duty on wheat by another three months, till June, to curb imports as domestic production is estimated to rise by over 8 per cent this year.
Indian flour mills have already contracted to import three lakh tonnes from Australia and France for shipment in July- September.
Last year too, private millers had purchased about 5 lakh tonnes of wheat from Australia for the first time in a decade due to sluggish supply of domestic high protein wheat and lower international prices.
As on April 1, state-owned FCI had a stock of 30 million tonnes of wheat, much higher than the actual requirement of 7.46 million tonnes.
Despite drought in over 10 states, wheat production has been pegged at 94.04 million tonnes for 2015-16 crop year (July-June) compared with 86.53 million tonnes in the previous year, as per Agriculture Ministrys third advance estimate.