Agri Business

Govt should have given policy support to other oilseeds along with oil palm: SEA

Our Bureau Mangaluru | Updated on August 24, 2021

‘Import dependence is not likely to be arrested soon with these half-hearted measures’

The Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) of India has said that the Government should have given due policy support to other high oil-bearing oilseeds also while announcing the National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP).

In a letter to the SEA members on Tuesday, Atul Chaturvedi, President of SEA, said: “We fervently hope the long-delayed and debated national mission on other oilseeds like mustard, groundnut, soya, ricebran, etc is announced on immediate basis if we have any hope of achieving a semblance of Aatmanirbharta in edible oils.”

Congratulating the government for announcing the ₹11,000-crore NMEO-OP programme for the development of oil palms plantations to reduce the country’s dependence on edible oil imports, he said palm is a long-gestation period crop and it would have been in fitness of things that other high oil-bearing oilseeds should have been given due policy support.

After years of neglect, NMEO-OP was finally launched by the Prime Minister. “However, we still do not see any signs of supporting other oilseeds like mustard, groundnut or soya. The story of continued and ever-increasing dependence on imports of edible oils is not likely to be arrested soon with these half-hearted measures,” he said in the letter.

On the import of GM soyabean meal, he said the poultry industry has been passing through rough times with prices of soyameal sky-rocketing during the last few months. Many small poultry farmers were driven out of business. No wonder chicken and egg prices have hit the roof contributing in no small measure to food inflation.

However, he said the industry is still awaiting required notification/clarification from DGFT.

ASEAN pact

Stating that ASEAN agreement is now under the review process, Chaturvedi said there was no provision for ‘Bilateral Safeguard Duty’ in earlier ASEAN agreement. He said the SEA has suggested the government to include the provision of ‘Bilateral Safeguard Duty’ in revised agreement so that as and when excessive imports take place, automatically additional duty can be imposed without going through the cumbersome process of filing papers for ‘Safeguard Duty’.

Added to this, there is always a ‘bound rate’ for imposing highest duty, whether in ASEAN or MCECA agreements, on palm products imported by India. However, the exporting countries seem to be free to impose export duty and levies as agreements are silent on this issue.

He said that Indonesia has imposed export duty plus a biodiesel levy making crude palm oil (CPO) expensive and India is compelled to pay high price for the same. To support their local industry, export duty and levy are kept low on finished goods such as palmolein. With this, India is subsidising their export duty and levy indirectly.

Malaysia has imposed duty on export of CPO with nil duty on RBD palmolein. “In view of this one-sided advantage to the exporting country, we have requested the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry that a proper proviso be included in ASEAN agreement to restrict or regulate the imposition of export duty by the exporting country to have level-playing field for both the sides,” he said.

Published on August 24, 2021

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