New Delhi: The government is mulling a fresh set of measures to combat growing inflationary pressures.
These include extending the ban on export of pulses and allowing duty-free import of pulses until March 2008, a further cut in import duties of certain edible oils—soya oil, crude palm oil and refined palm oil—by 5-10% and measures to check the price rise in naphtha, furnace oil and aviation fuel.
The new measures come at a time when the government is under pressure for its inability to rein in inflation and has already taken several steps to improve supply of essential commodities through easier imports.
Senior government officials said that a committee of secretaries that met recently recommended a 10% reduction in import duty on soya oil, 5% on crude palm oil and 5% on refined palm oil.
The government had on 24 January reduced import duty of crude palm oil to 60% from 70%, RBD palm oil to 67.5% from 80%, crude sunflower oil to 65% from 75% and of refined sunflower oil to 75% from 85%.
Another proposal being considered is to import an addition two lakh MT of pulses in addition to what is being imported by private traders.
“There is a proposal to explore import of dum peas and chick peas, which can be used as substitutes for tur dal,” the official who did not wish to be identified said. Import of pulses during April-December has touched 16.59 lakh tonnes compared with 14.05 lakh tonnes in the same period last year. Officials said the department of food had also been asked to monitor the international market to identify opportunities for import, if possible.
“The consumer affairs ministry has been asked to work with the finance ministry to identify a set of measures to enhance the quota of import of pulses through private traders,” the official said.
With retail prices of onion still hovering at between Rs14 and Rs20 in the four metro cities, officials said there was a proposal to get the commerce ministry to issue a circular stating that no-objection certificates for exports of onion would be issued only if the shipment of exporters was ready for export.
The commerce ministry has also been asked to consider the setting up of a canalising agency for the export of maize for the next six months.