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As prices soar,pulse imports stuck over mode of payment

With prices of pulses still hovering over Rs 75 a kilo,purchase of about one lakh tonnes of pulses from neighbouring Myanmar that could ease domestic prices has been stuck....

With prices of pulses still hovering over Rs 75 a kilo,purchase of about one lakh tonnes of pulses from neighbouring Myanmar that could ease domestic prices has been stuck because of issues over the modalities of payment from the Government of India to its Myanmarese counterpart.

Sources in the Agriculture and Food Ministry on Tuesday revealed that despite a clearance by an Empowered Group of Ministers late last year for government-level purchase of pulses from Myanmar,the government had not been able to seal the deal for imports that could have eased the prices by increasing domestic availability. That too,despite the Government of Myanmar indicating its willingness to sell pulses to India.

Under the government-to-government purchase mechanism,the Myanmar government would be selling pulses to the Indian government in quantities more than normal imports by private traders. This mechanism also facilitates relatively lower prices compared to private imports.

Sources,however,cited “difficult preconditions” by the Myanmar side for not proceeding ahead. They said Myanmar wanted the payments in currency other than US dollars and also wanted an advance payment for the delivery,which the Indian government was not willing to undertake. The government,they said,did not want to make upfront payment as it violated norms and that is why the decision on government-level purchase has been held up for some time now.

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With domestic demand for pulses outstripping production (at around 14-15 million tonnes) by an average of about three million tonnes annually,India has been a regular and largest importer of pulses in the global market. In fact,country imported over 1.5 million tonnes of pulses in the first half of the current fiscal,which has been about 20 per cent more than the same period last fiscal.

By virtue of producing many of the pulses varieties similar to those of Indian ones,Myanmar has been one of largest sources of pulses imports. That’s why government had hoped to augment its domestic pulses supply by undertaking government-to-government level purchases with Myanmar.

First published on: 13-01-2010 at 02:09:45 am
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