Government weighs a cess on cooking oil imports

New Delhi: The government is considering a cess on cooking oil imports to fund a national mission that aims to reduce its massive import, which has crossed Rs 70,000 crore in recent years. The aim is to help farmers and local industry, apart from reducing the current account deficit.

The duty on crude palm oil from Malaysia, Indonesia and other member-nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) is 40 per cent while duty on refined palm oil is 45 per cent for imports from Malaysia and 50 per cent if purchased from Indonesia or other Asean states.

The duty is 44-54 per cent on crude palm and refined palm oil imported from other countries. India imports around 15 million tonnes of edible oil to meet its annual requirement of 25 million, making it one of the biggest buyers of the cooking medium. FM Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the budget, had urged farmers to make India selfsufficient in edible oil production. “A Group of Secretaries formed to deliberate on important development issues is thinking of launching a nationwide mission to minimize oil imports. It’s taking shape and will be rolled out soon,” said a government official. The government may levy a 2-10 per cent cess on import of crude and refined edible oil to fund the mission. “Earlier, a fund of Rs 10,000 crore was mooted to support this mission.

But, now, they (GoS) are looking at raising it through levying cess on industry,” the official said. The industry wants the government to set aside a corpus from the revenue it earns from the duty on crude and refined edible oil imports.