PMO asks commerce ministry to cut unnecessary imports

New Delhi, Sep 22: Ahead of the Thursday launch of the "Make in India" campaign announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day, his office has written to the commerce ministry to forge a plan to reduce the country's dependence on unwarranted imports.

A commerce ministry source told IANS Monday that they have identified nine commodities where annual imports constitute more than $100 million each.

Edible oil, which leads the import basket with a 60 percent share, is among the nine commodities, the others being pulses, fresh fruits, cashew, sugar, alcoholic beverages, processed and packaged items, cocoa products and sesame seeds.

"The ministry has written to the concerned sector councils and associations, seeking suggestions on ways to reduce such imports," the source said.

With local prices of oilseeds falling in the wake of softening edible oil prices overseas, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters earlier this month that there were no immediate plans to raise the import duty on edible oils.

Industry associations have been demanding a rise in the import duty following a sharp drop in local soybean and groundnut prices.

The world's leading buyer of edible oils, India meets more than half its edible oil needs through imports.

In January, the government raised the import duty on refined edible oil to 10 percent. The industry had been demanding an increase in the import duty on refined oil to 14.5 percent thereby ensuring a marked difference between crude and refined edible oil.

Owing to the earlier five percent gap in the duties, there had been an increase in the import of refined oils, leading to a fall in the capacity utilisation of domestic refiners.


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