Kerala has urged the Centre to restore the 20 per cent higher import duty on natural rubber in order to protect the interest of rubber cultivators.
In a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a delegation of Kerala members of Parliament pointed out that the Centre had withdrawn the 20 per cent import duty on the basis of the recommendations of an expert committee appointed as per the directions of the Delhi High Court.
The committee had recommended that the import duty should be rationalised only at a time when there was shortage in domestic production and the international prices were lower. Accordingly, the import duty of rubber was fixed at Rs.20 a kg when there was a short fall in domestic production.
The lower duty rates had led to imports of over 1,90,000 tonnes of natural rubber. At present, domestic production had gone up, while international prices were higher than domestic rates. If the existing duty rates of Rs.20 a kg were to continue, Kerala’s economy would suffer a huge set back, the memorandum pointed out.
According to sources, the Prime Minister had issued directions to Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to convene a meeting to discuss the issues raised by Kerala MPs. Mr. Sharma had convened a meeting on February 26, which would be attended by officials in the Commerce Ministry, sources said.
Source: The Hindu