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Government of India to Import Maize at concessional rate of duty

Amid sliding prices of maize in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown, Import of 5 Lakh tonne of maize to increase availability of commodity in the domestic market is aimed by Govt this year. This import would be permitted under Tariff Rate Quota Scheme at a Concessional Custom Duty of 15% including four more products with Maize. At present, maize attracts 50 per cent import duty.

Although India is major Exporter of Maize to Southeast Asia, due to rise in domestic demand has let to cut exports subsequently. Some major consumers of maize include poultry sector and starch manufacturers.

The decision may dampen the hopes of maize farmers, who have been expecting prices to rise with pickup in demand after lock down. Maize farmers in Bihar, who account for over 80 per cent of India’s 6-7 million tonnes (mt) of annual production of rabi maize, are facing difficulties in selling their produce as costs have gone down to ₹ 1,100-1,250 ac compared to last year price of ₹ 2,000-2,400 per quintal when the Government Minimum Support Price was ₹ 1,760 per quintal for 2019-20.

Similarly, at a time when cooperative dairies are saddled with skimmed milk powder stocks of about 1.25 lakh tonnes, imports of 10,000 tonne of milk and cream powder is also allowed at 15% Concessional Custom Duty under these norms With the lean season for milk almost ending and monsoon rains setting in the move comes., it may worsen the glut situation as Milk procurement prices, too, have come down due to collapse in demand during lock down.

Department of Revenue under its notification said that it seeks to prescribe the manner and modalities in respect of World Trader Organization committed in quota tariff on specified items.

The latest decision is a reversal of the budget decision. In the Union Budget 2020-21, the government had withdrawn the concessional duty of 15 per cent applicable on imports of up to 10,000 tonnes of skimmed milk powder during a fiscal under the Tariff Rate Quota Scheme. Under the scheme, the government allows import of four products—maize (corn), “milk and cream in powder, granules”, crude sunflower seed or safflower oil and fractions thereof; and refined rape, colza or mustard oil and fractions thereof—at concessional rates of customs duty. The Center has also allowed import of 1.5 lakh tonne each of refined rape, colza or mustard oil and crude sunflower seed or safflower oil at 45 per cent and 50 per cent duty, respectively.

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