In a bid to check cheap imports, the Centre on Monday raised the import duty on wheat to 25 per cent till March next year, its second increase in three months.
“In view of the continued fall in international prices of wheat and the anticipated adverse impact of increased imports during the first half of this financial year, basic customs duty on wheat has been increased from 10 per cent to 25 per cent for a period up to March 31, 2016,” the finance ministry said in a statement.
In August, the government had imposed a 10 per cent import duty on wheat, for the first time since 2006.
The food ministry had proposed raising the import duty to cut imports and protect the domestic market. The agriculture ministry was also in favour of a duty hike.
Private firms are importing high-protein wheat varieties as the domestic crop was damaged due to rains and hailstorms earlier this year.
Wheat production in India, the world’s second largest grower, is estimated to have declined to 88.94 million tonnes (mt) in the 2014-15 crop year, against the record production of 95.85 mt in 2013-14.
Still, the government has a huge stock of wheat of 34 mt thanks to bumper procurement this year and carry-over stock from the previous years.
The government has also exempted from excise duty payment refined bleached deodorised (RBD) palm stearin, methanol and sodium methoxide, used in the manufacture of bio-diesel, till March 31, 2016.
Currently, specified bio-diesel is exempt from central excise duty. However, its inputs — RBD palm stearin, methanol and sodium methoxide — were chargeable to central excise duty leading to Cenvat credit accumulation.