The pepper traders have appealed to the commerce ministry to take steps to raise vigil to prevent the import of pepper from Vietnam through Sri Lanka with origin of certificate from the latter, citing the recent statement by a Sri Lankan minister in media.
Kishore Shamji, the coordinator of the Kerala chapter of Indian Pepper and Spice Traders, Growers , Planters Consortium said in a letter to commerce minister Suresh Prabhu that Sri Lankan minister has said that he hasn’t been able to prevent the export of 156 containers of Vietnam pepper to India with certificate of origin from Sri Lanka as it is a racket similar to narcotics trafficking.
``We have been cautioning the Indian government since last week of January that 180 containers of about 1800 to 2000 tonnes of such pepper have left Sri Lankan coast,’’ he said.. This is over and above the pepper smuggled to India from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal, he added
The supply of Vietnam pepper is happening by evading duty to the tune of 43% as the duty for import from Vietnam is 51% against 8% for Sri Lanka under India Sri lanka Free Trade Agreement, circumventing the minimum import price of Rs 500 per kg fixed by India for pepper imports.
Shamji said the Indian importer pays the minimum import price of Rs 500 ($ 7100 per tonne), for which duty comes to Rs 40 at 8%. Since the Sri Lankan pepper price is $ 3000 per tonne, the balance $4100 is in many cases not remitted. Those who are paying $ 7100 in full gets back the excess money through hawala in cash in Indian rupees. ` In both cases it is a violation of FEMA rules,’’ he alleged.
He said such pepper are sold in Indian markets below the domestic price of Rs 350 per kg. Shamji urged the authorities to enforce steps to test for a minimum of 6% piperine content in such imports if it is for extraction purpose. The Vietnam pepper has only 4 to 5 % of piperine, he said.
Source :- Economictimes.indiatimes.com