The central government has asked state governments to take disclosure of stocks of cooking oils and oilseeds being held by various participants of the cooking oil value chain. The states have also been asked to monitor cooking oil prices on a weekly basis. As edible oils and oilseeds were removed from the purview of the Essential Commodities (EC) Act, which is used for collecting ‘information’ of these commodities, the industry fears that the government is probably bringing back the start of weekly monitoring of prices ahead of the festival.

“In a move to check the unfair practice if any and bring transparency in the availability of edible oils, the centre has asked States to take disclosures of stock of edible oilseeds and oils with the millers and stockists. This move Is being made to ensure that there is no unfair trade practice and consequent rise of edible oils due hoarding of any kind,” said the government in a press release.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs had written a letter to the chief secretaries of the states on September 8 asking them to direct stockholders like millers, refiners, wholesalers, traders etc to declare their stocks of edible oils/oilseeds and to verify it. States are also requested to monitor the prices of edible oils/oilseeds on a weekly basis.

The central government has asked states to make access to an online portal available for disclosure of the stocks on the same lines being followed for disclosure of stocks in case of pulses.

The Government of Uttar Pradesh has issued the orders to the state’s industry to comply with the state’s direction, while other states may soon implement the order.

“This is not a stock limitation order of any kind. Secretary (Food) is expected to take a meeting with the officials of the state governments on Friday to ensure that compliance is done appropriately,” added the release.

Industry insiders said that the decision to review the stock has come very late and may not serve much purpose, apart from being tough to implement. Atul Chaturvedi, president, Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) said, “The possible reason for gathering information about stock could be to get a feel of the stock level and understand if the supply chain is adequately taken care of. Our only hope is that this does not result in the return of the Essential Commodities Act, making it relevant again.”

The edible oil industry expects that the imported oils may be exempted from the stock declaration requirement just as the imported pulses were exempted.

Though the prices of all the cooking oils saw their historical high levels, there are expectations of a softening trend in most of them, except mustard. Industry expects mustard prices to stay firm till December as the lndianmustard with strong pungent smell as no other alternative is available in the world.

“World wide, edible oil prices have started softening except that of the mustard oil. The softening of mustard oil can happen if the import duty on rapeseed oil is reduced,” said Chaturvedi.

In a seperate release, the Ministry had said, “A close watch is kept on day to day basis on production, imports and prices of edible oils and so that appropriate measures can be taken to keep a check on the prices of edible oil. An Inter-Ministerial Committee on Agri-Commodities chaired by Secretary (Food) is also in place to closely monitor the prices and availability of agricultural commodities including edible oil keeping in view the interest of the farmer, industry and consumers. Timely interventions by the Government have been made in the last year as and when needed so as to ensure that the prices remain stable and interest of consumers is protected within the limitations of international fluctuations.”

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