New Delhi: The government has raised the customs duty on wheat from 20 per cent to 30 per cent in order to curb cheaper imports and protect domestic growers.
The import duty on walnut shell has also been increased from 30 per cent to 100 per cent, according to a late night notification issued by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
The increase in import duty on wheat comes in the wake of record domestic production and fear of cheaper imports from international market, especially from Russia where the production is expected to be better this year.
The government wants to restrict overseas purchase so that domestic prices of wheat do not come under pressure and farmers get at least the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,735 per quintal fixed for the 2017-18 crop year (July-June), industry experts said.
Farmers have almost harvested the 2017-18 wheat crop and the government has procured about 33.3 million tonnes so far at the support price, as per the official data.
The government, which has procured huge quantity of wheat this crop year, is looking at disposing of the stock to bulk consumers like flour millers at a price of Rs 1,900 per quintal at ex-Ludhiana price.
"If customs duty was not raised, the government's open sale of wheat could be affected," a flour miller said.
The government's third advance estimate has pegged wheat output at a record 98.61 million tonnes for the 2017-18 crop year. The country imported 1.48 million tonnes of wheat during 2017-18 fiscal, as per the industry data.