Government shelves plan to import rice

With rice prices on the rise globally, the government on Friday decided against rice imports, stating it has enough stocks to manage demand despite a shortfall of 15 million tonne in kharif production.

"We are not importing rice. We have adequate stocks. We will review if there is any need in future," commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma told reporters in New Delhi after a meeting of the empowered group of ministers on food.

The EGoM, inevitably headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, decided to scrap the three tenders, totalling 30,000 tonnes, floated by the state-owned trading firms MMTC, STC and PEC.

"The government does not want to buy at such high prices," a source said, adding the option of imports through government channels of exporting countries remains open.

The three government firms had received bids earlier this month with a price range of $372-$598 per tonne. The landed price of these bids at the ports works out to be Rs18-28 per kg against the average domestic price of Rs22-25.

The EGoM decision against rice import, though an about-turn from the earlier government announcement, is being viewed in the trade circles as a strategy to cool the spiralling international price. They said the government might again enter the market at appropriate time.