BJP demands restoration of import duty on edible oils

October 7th, 2008 - 8:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNagpur, Oct 7 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Maharashtra unit has demanded immediate restoration of import duty on edible oils and a worthwhile crop insurance scheme to shore up the farmers in the state, hit hard by large scale failure of soybean crop.“Farmers in the state, who have turned to soybean farming in a big way in recent years, have suffered a huge loss - estimated at Rs.84 billion - this season due to a devastating pest attack and late sowing necessitated by a long dry spell,” BJP state unit secretary Pasha Patel told reporters here Tuesday.

Adding to their woe was a sudden crash in soybean prices from Rs.2,800 to Rs.1,700 per quintal in the last fortnight and it is set to go down further to Rs.1,200 by the time the crop arrives in the market in a short while from now, Patel said.

He added that this has happened mainly because of reduction of import duty on edible oils from 45 percent to zero percent done by the United Progressive Alliance government as a measure to control prices.

“Traders, who play the trick of lowering the purchase prices of agriculture produce when it comes to market in bulk and raising them later, have been helped by the government’s completely wiping out the import duty to facilitate large scale import of palm olein oil,” Patel said.

“Though the ostensible reason for removing the import duty is price control for common man, it has been apparently done to favour four big palm olein oil importers namely Cargil, Adani Group, ADM and Bungo,” the BJP leader alleged.

Quoting experts, Patel said palm olein oil coagulates in blood vessels leading to cardiac problems.

Patel wondered why the government does not allow mixing of ethanol with petrol to bring down its price and help the sugarcane growers and industry, adding that the previous National Democratic Front government had taken a policy decision to that effect.

“The NDA government had raised the edible oil import duty to 71 percent apart from taking the historic decision on ethanol mixing. Both measures had multiple benefits - for farmers, consumers and domestic economy which the present government has done away with,” Patel said.

“We have a capacity to produce 850 million liters of ethanol annually which is more than enough to meet the industrial demand of 550 million liters and spare 120 million liters for mixing in petrol,” he said.

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