16/02/2008 (Sify.com), Chennai - The Central Organisation for Oil Industry and Trade (COOIT) has urged the Union Finance Ministry to keep the customs duty on import of vegetable oils unchanged in order to help increase oilseeds production in the country.
In a memorandum to the Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, the COOIT Chairman, Davish Jain, said the duty on crude palm oil and de-gummed soyabean oil was very low, taking into account the freeze in tariff values since September 2006.
In view of the freeze in tariff values the effective duty, going by current prices of crude palm oil and de-gummed soyabean oil, was 18.67 per cent and 16.81 per cent against the set duty of 46.35 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.
Price advantage negated
“With such low effective duties, any further reduction will only discourage farmers from growing oilseeds. The lower duties have also tempted foreign edible oil suppliers to go on jacking up the prices, thereby negating price advantage to Indian consumers,” he said.
“The increase in edible oil prices is similar to or less than the increase in other essential food items. Also, the share of edible oils in the daily budget of a family is much lower than wheat, rice etc. The current prices of edible oils are realistic and as a direct outcome of this, the farmers have been realising remunerative prices for their produce. It is necessary to keep the prices at the current realistic level, so that oilseeds production which has been stagnant over the last 10 years gets a boost and our over-dependence on imports of edible oils is contained,” he added.