New Delhi: While the bumper production of wheat and rice last season has helped the country in ensuring food security, the surplus foodgrain has also left the Central government a divided house. While the Agriculture and Commerce Ministries are pitching in for subsidy on export of wheat, ministries like Finance and Food & Civil Supplies are against it as it would increase the burden on the already stretched public exchequer.
Moreover, there is no dearth of people in the government who are in favour of distributing the surplus wheat amongst poor.

The stalemate within different ministries is now expected to be broken during the next meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM).

In the international market, wheat is available at USD 240 to USD 250 per ton, whereas the value of the Indian wheat is USD 300 per ton. In such conditions, the government may have to shell out a subsidy of USD 40 to USD 50 per ton. The cost of production of wheat in the country is Rs 1500.

The lack of consensus within the government has delayed the decision over the export of the wheat and the rice. Though the final decision on the rice export has been taken, decision for the wheat export is still on hold.

While announcing the lifting of ban on wheat export, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had also expressed apprehensions over viability of wheat exports citing the prevailing prices of wheat in the global market.

According to sources, the Agriculture and Commerce Ministry together had prepared the blue print of the export subsidy on wheat. However, the Finance Ministry has expressed its apprehensions regarding the option arguing that it would further burden the exchequer at a time when the government is using all means to minimize the subsidy bill.

(JPN/ Bureau)