The government has raised import duty on wheat to 25 per cent till March next year to restrict overseas purchases in the wake of falling global prices. "In view of the continued fall in international prices of wheat and the anticipated adverse impact of increased imports during the first half of this financial year, basic customs duty on wheat has been increased from 10 per cent to 25 per cent for a period up to March 31, 2016," Finance Ministry said in a statement.In August, the government had imposed a 10 per cent import duty on wheat, for the first time since 2006. The Food Ministry had proposed raising import duty to cut imports and protect the domestic market. The Agriculture Ministry was also in favour of a duty hike.Private firms are importing high-protein wheat varieties as the domestic crop was damaged due to rains and hailstorms earlier this year. Wheat production in India, the world's second-biggest grower, is estimated to have declined to 88.94 million tonnes in the 2014-15 crop year, as against the record production of 95.85 million tonnes in 2013-14.Still, the government has a huge stock of wheat at over 34 million tonnes due to bumper procurement this year and carry-over stock from the previous years. Besides, the government has also exempted from excise duty payment RBD Palm Stearin, Methanol and Sodium Methoxide. "Central excise duty has been exempted on RBD Palm Stearin, Methanol and Sodium Methoxide used in the manufacture of such bio-diesel, subject to actual user condition for a period up to March 31, 2016," the statement added.
Currently, specified bio-diesel is exempt from central excise duty. However, its inputs namely, RBD Palm Stearin, Methanol and Sodium Methoxide were chargeable to central excise duty leading to CENVAT credit accumulation.
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