He said the government is continuously keeping a watch on prices of edible oil and pulses and will take measures, if necessary, at an appropriate time.
Replying to a query whether the government was considering reduction in import duty of edible oils, Pandey said: “Prices are softening every week. There is a declining trend. Even the futures market prices are showing declining trend.”
The secretary noted that demand for cooking oils has come down by 15-20 per cent because of the pandemic. An inter-ministerial committee reviews prices of essential items every week, he added.
As per the government data, the retail prices of edible oils have risen more than 60 per cent in over a year and is adding to the woes of consumers already reeling under the economic distress induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 24, Food Secretary Sudhanshu had discussed in detail the reasons for the “abnormal rise” in local prices, and asked the states and industry stakeholders to take measures to soften the prices.
India meets 60 per cent of edible oil demand through imports.
Trade body Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) had suggested the government to revisit duty reduction measures only after the Kharif oilseed planting is over to ensure no negative signals go to local oilseed farmers.
To give relief to the poor, SEA had also suggested the government to supply edible oils at subsided rates via ration shops. Among others, it had asked the government to curb speculative trade in agri futures market.