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Food Ministry finalises pulses imports schedule

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Jul 7 (UNI) With food prices fast assuming political overtones, the Food Ministry today finalised the schedule for import of pulses designating three agencies-NAFED, PEC and MMTC- to import pulses at the earliest besides expiditing the delivery of contracted wheat imports to bring down the prices of the commonman's staple food.

In addition, the Forward Trading Commission operating under the Ministry has also undertaken an excercise to formulate new guidelines for regulating the Commodity Futures exchanges- Mumbai based NCDX and NCX and Ahemdabad located NMCE- thereby to rein overtrading position of traders that had already resulted in an unprecedented rise in wheat and pulses prices. And also, to pave a way for the entry for FCI, a major foodgrain buyer into Future Trading in wheat and rice, an official spokesperson told mediapersons.

The government has already announced import of pulses and wheat on zero duty and banned the export of white sugar to keep a tap on the rising prices of these commodities.

Two agencies- NAFED and PEC have already floated international tenders for import of as much as 1,11000 tonnes of pusles. Of which PEC will import 81,000 tonnes and NAFED 30,000 tonnes.

MMTC is yet to float the global tenders in a bid to garner more imports of pulses in an open-ended import policy of the government aimed to subdue the pulses prices shot to Rs 60-70 a kg in retail.

The country with annual production of around 14-15 million tonne of pulses, its facing shortage of about two million tonnes for past several years. And, the government has been meeting requirements of pulses, known as 'source of protein for the poor through imports mainly from Canada.

NAFED has already floated international tenders for import of 18606 tonnes of peagon pea and 5000 tonnes of black Natche and green moong beans each from Maynmar. And, these imported pulses are slated to deliver at Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. Other pulses being imported are 25,000 tonnes of Urad, 5000 tonnes of Tur and 2000 tonne of Channa in coming two months- July and August.

In a bid to ensure sufficient supplies of wheat and pulses the government has reduced the stock holding limit by 50 per cent to 10,000 tonne for members, 2000 tonnes for clients and hiked the margin for hedging by 10 per cent.

The government is upset with fierce speculative activities at the country's commodity exchanges which witnessed a steep hike in value of commodities traded from mere Rs 3,495 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 66,530 crore in 2002-03 (93 per cent increase) and then to Rs 1,29,354 crore in 2003-04( 94 per cent rise) and finally to Rs 5,71759 crore in 2004-05, thereby registering an increase of 342 per cent.

Even till Novemeber 2005, the value of commodities traded at the exchanges touched Rs 11,32,000 crore-- hinting at an unprecedented hike in speculation of commodities that led to the rise in prices of daily consumption items.

The government tightened delivery schedule of two contracts of imported wheat to be shipped to ports at east and west coasts of the country. And it is expected that lots of imported wheat will be reaching at ports in July and August and later by September end.

UNI/JSS DKS HT1945

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