New Delhi: The government, which faced flak for importing wheat at a high price of $325.59 in July, on 23 August floated a global tender to import an unspecified quantity of wheat between October and December to build its buffer stock.
The State Trading Corporation (STC) has floated the wheat import tender on behalf of the government, which had announced its plan to import about 50 lakh tons of wheat this year to build up buffer stock for meeting any exigencies like natural calamities.
The tender will close on 29 August and on the same day the bids will also be opened, STC said.
The public sector trading firm will take a decision on the quantity to be imported by 3 September based on prices quoted by the global suppliers, a government official said.
This is the third tender being floated by the STC this year. Government has gone ahead with its import plan despite criticism that it purchased the wheat at higher price in the last round of tender.
As of 1 July this year, the buffer stock stood at around 130 lakh tons against the buffer norm of 171 lakh tons.
STC had contracted 5.11 lakh tons of wheat in July through second tender at an average price of $325.59 while the first tender was scrapped due to high price being quoted by the international suppliers.
“In addition to shipment by vessel loads supply can also be made in container loads loose in bulk. Suppliers have to indicate maximum quantity offered in vessel loads and/or container loads port wise each month,” STC said.
The tender stipulates delivery of consignments at eight designated ports.
STC has sought wheat in parcel size of 25,000-75,000 tons at Mundra, Kakinada, Kandla, Chennai, Tuticorin and Vishakhapatnam. However, at Cochin and Mumbai ports the size should be between 25,000 tons and 50,000 tons.
The bidders are asked to quote port-wise, month-wise quantities for arrival in each month during October-December 2007, the tender added.
Wheat output is estimated at 748.9 lakh tons for the 2006-07 season as per the fourth advance estimate.
The government was able to procure only 111 lakh tons of wheat this year to run public distribution system as against the targeted 151 lakh tons.
With opening stock of 47 lakh tons and the procurement, the government is confident of meeting the wheat requirement of PDS and other social welfare schemes and import is meant for augmenting the buffer stock.
This is the second year running that India is importing wheat. After a gap of six years, the government imported about 55 lakh tons of wheat last year to meet the PDS requirement as the procurement reached a low of 92 lakh tons.