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INTERVIEW

“Govt policies not favourable for oilseeds; FSS Act copied & pasted from USA, Europe”
Monday, 03 May, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Recently prices of edible cooking oil have increased due to various factors including Covid-19 and bad weather conditions. Of course, the Central Government reduced the import duty on palm oil by 10 per cent but the problem of inflation still prevails. Shankar V Thakkar, who is the national president of Akhil Bharatiya Khadhyatel Vyapari Mahasangh, and the metropolitan president of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), shares his views on the issues surrounding increasing rates of edible cooking oil in India, the country’s quest to become self-sufficient in production of oils, the regulations and more in an email interview with Manjushree Naik. Excerpts:

India's oil imports have dwindled this year. Comment.
India’s edible oil imports dwindled this year on account of good Indian crop of groundnut, soyseed, rmseed, and ricebran oil.

India wants to be self-sufficient in oils but is still not able to. What are the issues?
Government policies are not favourable for cultivation of oilseeds. No support from government for cultivation of oilseeds, non-awareness in farmers for cultivation of oil seeds.

Imported oils are cheaper than Indian oils. India is not self-sufficient in edible oils as it is not fully utilising the resources available, e.g., India’s rice production is highest in the world but we are not utilising rice bran entirely for the production of rice bran oil. Likewise because of various many reasons, India is not self-sufficient in oils.

We are ignoring traditional oils and going for canola and so on. How detrimental is this to our trade?
Not detrimental to our trade as our trade also gets updated with the changes as innovation is a part of life.

What do you think about new regulations that talk about fortification?
Fortifications should not be compulsory and should be optional as it is not good for trade and it should be buyer’s option to buy whichever he finds fit for himself.

How is the new regulatory scenario for the trade?
Many regulations are directly imposed on trade fraternity from foreign countries and our traders are not that well updated when compared to Europe and the US and this Act (FSS Act) is totally copied and pasted from USA and Europe. Hence, impractical for Indian traders and causing hurdles in trade.

What are your observations regarding regulations on UCO?
First government should bring awareness in public and frying namkeen fraternity and then they should go for regulations. Yet not up to the mark as more awareness is needed.

What do you think the government needs to do post-Covid-19 for the trade?
Trade has collapsed due to Covid, many trades were totally closed for more than 4 to 5 months and even today there are many such trades which are not started yet, there is no liquidity in market. Government must bring many supportive policies as well as incentives for trade, and also they must look into the matters which are causing unnecessary hurdles in businesses such as increase in licence fees and unnecessary taxation and they should provide interest less loan and waive off interest on the loans already given to the traders.
 
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