Pranab to clear air on wheat exports soon

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New Delhi: Amid confusion over lifting of ban on wheat exports, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said the issue was being discussed with the Commerce Ministry and the matter would be sorted out soon.

Earlier this month, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had said the government has decided to lift the ban on wheat exports.

Later, Food and Commerce Ministers clarified that the decision in this regard would be taken at the next meeting of the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) on food.

“We are consulting with the Commerce Ministry and we will be able to sort it out,” Mr. Mukherjee told reporters in New Delhi, when asked to comment on the differences between the Agriculture and the Commerce ministries on wheat exports.

The government had banned wheat exports in early 2007 to boost domestic supplies.

Sources had earlier said that while the proposal was given ‘in-principle’ approval during the July 11 meeting of EGoM, chaired by the Finance Minister, the decision was deferred in the wake of depressed prices in the global market.

It was felt that any announcement during that time by India would further depress the global prices.

The Commerce Ministry recently issued a notification on allowing export of one million tonnes of non-basmati rice though it has not issued any such order on wheat exports.

At present, the government godowns are brimming with 37.8 million tonnes of wheat stock in view of bumper output.

According to the latest estimates from the Agriculture Ministry, the country’s total wheat output is pegged at 85.93 million tonnes during the 2010-11 crop year (July-June) as against 80.80 MT in the previous year.

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