Union food secretary on Monday urged state governments and stakeholders from industry and trade to take all possible steps to soften the prices of edible oils while manufacturers requested the Centre not to lower import duty and create a buffer stock of mustard oil for further distribution through ration shops.
“Mission Atmanirbhar Bharat requires the country to be self-sufficient in edible oils. Dependency of almost 60% on imports is not appropriate to growth of edible oil industry in India. There is a need to strike a balance between short-term measures to keep prices in check and long-term measures of keeping India AtmaNirbhar in edible oil production,” food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said in a statement after a meeting with select industry representatives and officials of key producing states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Central Organization for Oil Industry and Trade (COOIT) is not in favour of reducing import duty or for removal of agri-cess from imported edible oils as it will discourage farmers during ensuing kharif sowing, and they will have distrust towards industry and trade, said Suresh Nagpal, chairman of the trade body.
Nagpal, who participated in the discussion, has suggested roll back of 5% GST on mustard seed and mustard oil as it will immediately lower edible oil price by Rs 7-8/kg.
“Government should create buffer stock of edible oils similar to one done for pulses. It may be distributed through public distribution system (PDS) to poor and also can be used for future market intervention, when required,” the COOIT chairman said.
Trade representatives informed the Centre that global prices have softened in past week and the effect will be reflected in next seven-10 days in the retail market, sources said.
The food ministry was also requested to consider asking commodity exchanges though market regulator Sebi to bring down circuit limit on oilseeds and oils.
As per official data, retail price of gram increased to Rs 80/kg on May 14 from Rs 60/kg a year-ago, tur rose to Rs 110/kg from Rs 90/kg, while urad to Rs 105/kg from Rs 100/kg and masoor dal to Rs 80/kg from Rs 72.50/kg.