Cabinet may take up wheat export today
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A proposal to export two million tonnes of wheat from the Central stocks which could ease the storage crisis is set to come before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Tuesday. The move comes days after the Food Ministry revealed that 6.6 million tonnes of freshly procured wheat is lying in the open, running the risk of damage from rain.
Sources said the Food Ministry wants clearance for exporting two million tonnes of wheat, but the move would entail a subsidy bill of around Rs 1,500 crore which is learnt to have already raised the hackles of the Finance Ministry. Even the Commerce Ministry has reservations as it feels required export subsidy may run counter to WTO norms.
However, the Food Ministry has been desperately trying to clear surplus stocks. Earlier, it had approached the Empowered Group of Ministers on management of foodgrain stocks with a proposal to offload 13 million tonnes of foodgrain through ration shops and open market. The ministry is learnt to be pushing for wheat exports from the government stocks to vacate space for the huge stocks lying in open.
Presently, the government is faced with a problem of plenty. The bumper wheat procurement of over 36 million tonnes this season has compounded its storage problems. Total foodgrain stocks in FCI godowns have crossed 82 million tonnes as on June 1 this year as against the covered storage capacity of a little under 64 million tonnes.
The ministry, sources said, has suggested wheat exports through PSUs with a floor price of US$228 per tonne.
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