‘Review of duty on rice unlikely soon, domestic availability paramount’

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal on Friday said the 20% export duty on non-basmati rice is unlikely to be taken up for a review until a clear picture of the impact of unseasonal rains on the crop in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar emerges.

Stating the objective was to ensure domestic availability as well as rein in the prices while also continuing with the Centre’s free grain distribution programme for the economically weak, the Minister said any review of the nearly two-month-old levy would depend on the sowing figures from the parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that received unseasonal rains.

Mr.Goyal, who was interacting with members of the Federation of Telangana Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FTCCI), said this in response to an appeal from the export trade for withdrawal of the duty as it was hampering the business. Taxpayers ought to be happy at how their money is being spent, he said, citing how the Centre has decided to give more rice to the poor.

The Minister, who responded to queries from industry representatives before delivering a short speech, said the focus should be on quality of products. “We should never compromise on quality… [need] is to become trusted supplier [to the world], he said, while underscoring the need to maintain one quality for supplies made to domestic and international consumers.

Blockchain for cotton

On cotton exports and quality issues, Mr. Goyal, who is also Textiles Minister, said besides constituting an advisory group to look into the issues, it has also been decided to use Blockchain to ensure traceability of the source.

Trade and industry, especially exports, will define the future of India and the country’s growth. After achieving a record $675 billion exports last year, the country has clocked an increase of 17% in exports in the first half this fiscal. The aim is to achieve $750 billion exports, coinciding with the 75th year of India’s independence, he said, highlighting the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Commending the government for the $27 billion production linked incentive schemes for 13 sectors, FTCCI president Anil Agarwal said serious supply chain disruptions persisted for the industry and they need to be addressed for increasing growth.

In an appeal, FTCCI urged the Commerce Ministry to consider the body as a vendor under the Market Access Initiative Scheme as it is better placed to reach the benefits to small and medium enterprises.

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