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 Kamar Nor Aini Bt Kamarul Zaman
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 The Financial Express
 Govt ups the ante on inflation

10/04/2008 (The Financial Express), New Delhi - The Centre is stepping up its fight to contain price rise. In an attempt to address the issue of demand-supply mismatch in the domestic market, the government-owned trading firm State Trading Corp, invited bids to import 117,000 metric tonne of lentils.

On the other hand, the government has also asked MMTC Ltd, the country’s biggest state-run trading company, to enroll edible oil suppliers after the government lowered import taxes on the commodity last month to ease a shortage.

Prospective suppliers should have imported at least 500,000 metric tonne of edible oils in the past three years and must have sales of at least $50 million. MMTC is seeking to purchase crude palm oil, refined palm oil and crude soybean oil, it said without specifying the quantity.

STC sought to offer 105,000 tonne of yellow peas of Canadian or European origin for delivery between July and November in Mumbai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam ports.

Suppliers have until April 17 to submit offers and the bids must be valid until April 25. The company is also seeking to buy 6,000 tonne each of lemon tur and black matpe.

The government scrapped import duty on crude soybean and palm oils and lowered the levy on refined edible oil to 7.5% on March 31 to curb inflation, which rose to a alarming three-year high of 7% for the week ended March 22, faster than the previous week's 6.68%.

Edible oil imports tripled to 430,992 tonne in February from a year earlier amid expectations for a surge in domestic demand as the winter oilseed crop was forecast to drop on bad weather. India, the world's second-biggest buyer of vegetable oils, buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia, and soybean oil from Argentina and Brazil.

The UPA government is battling to temper prices as it braces up to face general elections due next year. The government, which aims to crack down on the hoarding of commodities, scrapped import duty on crude edible oil and banned the export of rice and pulses on March 31 to ensure supplies and keep prices in check.

The world's second-fastest growing major Economy is also preparing to settle for slower economic expansion to curb inflation.

Commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath had said on Friday the government would crack down on hoarding to prevent profiteering from rising prices of essential commodities.

The government also said it would increase debt sales to drain cash from banks after a report showed inflation accelerated to the fastest since December 2004. It will sell bonds worth $2.25 billion and bills this week to slow the supply of money in the financial system.


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