The government on Tuesday scrapped customs duty and agriculture infrastructure development cess on the import of crude soyabean oil and crude sunflower oil for 20 lakh metric tonnes each per year to ease local prices.
The duty-free import of 20 lakh MT per year will be applicable for two fiscals, 2022-23 and 2023-24, for crude soyabean oil and crude sunflower oil, according to a notification by the Finance Ministry. This would mean till March 31, 2024, a total of 80 lakh MT on crude soyabean oil and crude sunflower oil could be imported duty free. The exemption will help cool domestic prices and control inflation.
“This will provide significant relief to the consumers, the CBIC tweeted. Solvent extractors of India (SEA) Executive Director B V Mehta said the prices of soyabean oil are expected to come down by Rs 3 per litre. The government issued notification regarding tariff rate quota of 20 lakh tonnes each for crude soyabean and sunflower oils. Under the TRQ a customs duty and agri infra development cess of 5.5 per cent would be removed, Mehta said.
Last week to control spiralling prices, the government had cut excise duty on petrol and diesel and also waived import duty on some raw materials used in steel and plastic industry. Besides, export duty was hiked on iron ore and iron pellets. A rise in price across all items from fuel to vegetables and cooking oil pushed WPI or wholesale price inflation to a record high of 15.08 per cent in April and retail inflation to a near eight-year high of 7.79 per cent.
High inflation prompted the Reserve Bank to hold an unscheduled meeting to raise the benchmark interest rate by 40 basis points to 4.40 per cent earlier this month. When asked about the likely impact on retail prices, Mehta told PTI that the prices of soyabean oil are expected to come down by Rs 3 per litre. Mehta further said the country is likely to import 35 lakh tonnes of crude soyabean oil and about 16-18 lakh tonnes of crude sunflower oil this fiscal.
He further said the association has demanded a reduction of import duty on rice bran oil and canola oil as well in order to boost domestic supplies and check retail prices. We urge the government to take a decision on this demand at the earliest, he added.