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BREAKING: Government lifts 5% import duty on India rice amid rising inflation

To facilitate the importation of 190,000 tons of rice from India this coming March and April 2024, the Cameroon Government has offered a special incentive to importers with approved quotas....CONTINUE READING

The information relayed by the communication unit of the Ministry of trade, indicates that 5% import duty will be exempted from the Indian rice. This follows a consultation meeting held on February 21, 2024, in Yaounde, between the Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, and the concerned economic operators.

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This reduction on import duty by the government which was initially set at 20%, will not only ensure the availability of this staple but will also control its price on the local market amid escalating inflation.

According to the General Directorate of Taxation at the Ministry of Finance, through fiscal measures such as tax reductions, the government forgoes around FCFA 52 billion annually to ensure a steady supply of rice at affordable prices.

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However, in recent years, there has been governmental discourse on reducing or even eliminating fiscal expenditures on mass consumption products like rice, fish and wheat. These products have led to significant revenue losses, becoming unbearable for the public treasury.

Regardless of how, the government’s decision to exempt 190,000 tons of Indian rice from import duty raises worry as It exacerbates state revenue losses on a product already under-taxed in a context where the government is striving to increase its non-oil revenues; and the exemption is applied to a specific cargo rather than all rice imports, potentially creating unfair market competition.

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Rice is a preponderant item on the menu of most Cameroonians. In 2022 for instance, Cameroon spent above FCFA 147 billion to purchase 496,700 tons of rice from India. That is a total of 55% of rice imported by the country according to official figures reported by the National Institute of Statistics (INS).