New Delhi: Ahead of the crucial meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Prices for considering options to tame rising inflation, commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath on Monday said the government is looking at further cuts in duties on import of essential commodities.
“With international prices going to be steep, we are looking at cutting duties on many products, on food front, on edible oil and a whole range of products; in fact, bringing them to zero, if necessary,” the minister said.
On steel, which has witnessed a sharp rise in the past few months, Nath said the government would have to “calibrate duties to allow imports”. He said the demand from the construction industry for both steel and cement has to be met.
The government has already slashed import duty on edible oils, including palm oil from 45% to 20%. Besides, stringent conditions have been imposed on exports of non-Basmati rice while export incentives on 40 to 50 items, including steel and chemical products have been withdrawn.
While the government cut the customs duty on edible oil to control the 13-month high inflation of 6.68%, the foreign suppliers jacked up their margins taking advantage of the shortages in the country, traders said.
Faced with a difficult task of checking price rise, attributed to global hardening trend, finance minister P Chidambaram had said in Mumbai on Friday that tackling inflation would be the top priority of the government even if economic growth rate has to be sacrificed by a few percentage points