New Delhi: The government is unlikely to float a fresh tender for wheat import immediately and is currently keeping a close watch on global prices and domestic requirement of the commodity.
“Not now. We will keep a watch. It’s a dynamic situation. We will take a view as we go along,” a senior food ministry official told PTI when asked whether government was planning to float another tender for wheat import.
The State Trading Corporation, which imports wheat on behalf of the government, has contracted over 13 lakh tonnes this year through two rounds of global tender.
The current wheat stock situation was comfortable but the demand from states could increase during festive season, he added.
The official debunked reports on import of wheat flour by the government for sale in the domestic market. However it could slash the import duty on wheat flour, which is currently over 30%, if domestic prices of ‘atta’ moves up.
“The option (to reduce the import duty) still exists but we have not decided on it. We may exercise the option if domestic flour millers increase the price,” the official said.
STC had contracted import of 5.11 lakh tonnes at an average price of $325.59 a tonne in the second round of tender, while it contracted 7.95 lakh tonnes at $389.45 a tonne through third tender.
The first tender was cancelled citing high prices, when the global suppliers had offered about three lakh tonnes at a negotiated price of $263 a tonne.
Wheat stock at start of the next fiscal is expected to be over 50 lakh tonnes, as a result of lower offtake by states for supply under public distribution system and other social welfare schemes. This is higher by about 14 lakh tonnes than the buffer norm of 40 lakh tonnes.
The wheat stock in the central pool as on 1 October was 101 lakh tonnes. Another 13 lakh tonnes would be added from import taking the total to 114 lakh tonnes.
The consumption in the remaining six months (October- March) of 2007-08 fiscal is expected at about 60 lakh tonnes under PDS and other social welfare schemes.
Wheat production in 2006-07 is estimated at 74.89 million tonnes against 69.35 million tonnes in the previous year. The government is targeting a higher production at 75.5 million tonnes in 2007-08.