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Monday, Jun 03, 2002

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Hike likely in palm oil tariff

M.R. Subramani


THE Government is likely to revise the base import price of the palm group of oils following a steep rise in its rates during the last couple of weeks.

"A hike in the tariff is likely by June 5 as the prices have sky-rocketed since the tariff was revised on May 15," trade sources told Business Line.

The tariff value was fixed when RBD palmolein and crude palm oil were ruling $320 and $345 a tonne respectively. On May 15, the Government raised the tariff value on RBD palmolein to $375, RBD palm oil to $365, crude palm oil to $344 and crude palmolein to $362.

On Friday, RBD palmolein closed at $400 per tonne, while crude palm oil at $376.

"Indications are that the tariff value will rise by at least $30 a tonne," a trader said. Another said it could easily go up by $75 for RBD palmolein. "The tariff value will have to take into consideration the freight charges," he said.

The Government has been fixing the tariff value since August 2001 to avoid under invoicing of consignments following a hike in customs duty on edible oils. In the 2001-02 Budget, the Government imposed 75 per cent duty on crude oil and 85 per cent duty on refined oils. The duty on crude palm oil was subsequently cut to 65 per cent in October following an assurance given by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to his Malaysian counterpart, Dr Mahathir Mohammed.

"Some traders have already begun to taken into account the tariff hike and have adjusted the price accordingly," trade sources said.

Palm oil prices are reviewed over a three-week period and the tariff rate will now depend on the basis of the period that has been taken into account by the Finance Ministry before the hike on May 15.

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