No JPC probe into rice scam, says Govt

As the government rejected its demand, the entire Opposition staged a walk-out which preceded uproarious scenes in the Lok Sabha over the alleged irregularities in the export of rice. The Opposition walk-out came after a heated exchange with Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce and Industries.

The minister, who admitted that some PSUs had flouted the guidelines of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for export of non-Basmati rice, said: “Responsibility will be fixed, nobody will be spared if any infringement of rules is found”. Sharma said the government was eager to get to the bottom of the issue.

Opposition Leader L K Advani said: “We are not sensationalising the issue. But, we ask the government not to trivialise the mater. We are not satisfied with the response and are stating a walk-out”.

Responding to a calling attention notice on the issue, Sharma said media reports of a Rs 2,500 crore rice export scam was at variance with the factual position.

“The total procurement value of rice actually exported was about Rs 170 crore. The export of non-Basmati rice in relaxation of the ban was fully authorised by the government keeping in view of the close ties we have with the African countries, their pressing needs  and diplomatic considerations. Even though the government had authorised the release of about 13.5 lakh metric tonne, a mere 1.22 lakh MT has actually been exported,” the minister added.

Anand Sharma said India exported 3.7 MT in 2006-07 and 5.28 MT in 2007-08. In October 2007, the government banned the export of non-Basmati rice following a general rise in the prices and the domestic supply situation.

Appeal

Following an appeal by some African countries, DGFT in January 2008 authorised export of rice of 50,000 MT through the state trading corporation (STC) and another 40,000 MT and more later.

In March 2009, the empowered group of ministers considered another proposal for permission to export broken rice on diplomatic considerations and approved no more than 20 lakh MT quantity to be exported.

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