In a bid to cool inflation in edible oils, the Centre on Tuesday allowed duty-free import of 20 lakh tonnes each of crude soyabean oil and crude sunflower oil for this year as well as 2023-24.
Retail inflation in edible oils and fats was 18.8% in March and 17.3% in April, and sunflower oil imports have been constricted due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict since February 24.
The Finance Ministry has notified the duty structure changes which will become operational from May 25, stating that this would provide significant relief to consumers.
Ukraine was the world’s largest sunflower oil exporter before the conflict began and India has been striving to tap alternative supplies from rival Russia and countries such as Argentina.
Last October, the government reduced the basic import duties on edible oils amid runaway prices.
The import duty on crude palm oil was slashed to 2.5%, from 10%, while those on crude soya and sunflower oils were cut to 2.5%, from 7.5%.
In another development, after wheat, the Centre has decided to restrict the export of sugar to 10 million tonnes.
The Union Department of Food and Public Distribution said in a statement here on Tuesday the decision was in the wake of “unprecedented growth in exports of sugar” and the need to maintain sufficient stock of sugar in the country. It is for the first time in six years that the Centre is regulating sugar exports. The move will come into effect from June 1.
According to the Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA), the industry has signed contracts to export over 8.5 million tonnes of sugar.
Of these, around 7.1 million tonnes have been physically exported out of the country till the end of April.
In the last year, the country had exported 4.3 million lakh tonnes till April, 2021.