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10% cut in tariff values of edible oils likely

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Sept. 14

A CUT in the tariff value or base price on which import duty is levied on edible oils is now almost certain.

"Tariff values will be adjusted and new prices would be announced tomorrow," the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, said after a meeting with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, here today.

Currently, the tariff values have been fixed at $504 per tonne for crude palm oil (CPO), $532 per tonne for crude palmolein, $543 per tonne for refined palm oil, $552 per tonne for refined palmolein and $628 per tonne for crude soyabean oil. While the base price for crude soya oil was last revised on May 31, those on other oils have remained unchanged ever since November 14, 2003.

The tariff values were fixed originally in order to curb under-invoicing by importers, as it was being seen that the invoice prices were way below the ruling international prices. The importers were resorting to this practice, in order to minimise their incidence of duty liability.

But since the beginning of the current year, international prices have firmed up considerably, leading to a situation where the tariff values are now way above the actual landed prices. The c.i.f. (cost, insurance, freight) price of crude soya oil is now about $ 556 per tonne, while the corresponding levels would work out to around $430 per tonne for CPO, $465 per tonne for refined palm oil and $475 per tonne for refined palmolein.

While Mr Chidambaram refused to comment on the proposed magnitude of revision in tariff values, the figure doing the rounds is of a roughly 10 per cent reduction from the existing levels.

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