Jerusalem (Jul. 24)
The new import duties on wheat, barley and other grains are an endeavor to improve the deplorable condition of Palestinian agriculturists, the government officer responsible for carrying the tariffs into effect explained to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today. He pointed out that the cultivators have wheat which they cannot sell while imported wheat is glutting the local market.
The situation is such that in some places the agriculturists are not even bothering to harvest their crops and some are even unwilling to sow for the coming season. Consequently it is felt that the only protection from ruin for the agriculturists is a tariff. It is explained that Palestine’s normal demand for imported flour is about a third of what is actually imported. In view of the tariff on wheat and barley the government is taking steps to see that there is no increase in the price of bread.
Local production of olive oil is of an extremely good quality and above normal, yet cheaper grades are being imported. The government officer justified the food taxes on the ground that so far as wheat and olive oil are concerned Palestine is self-supporting and the newly imposed duties as well as the remission of the crop tithes will save the cultivators from ruin. He said, too, that an agricultural bank is needed for the future in order to force the usurous money-lenders out of business.
The government yesterday imposed a fifty percent increase in the import duty on wheat and barley and seminola, regulated the importation of these commodities under a system of licenses conrolled by a permanent committee for commerce and industry, prohibited the importation of unrefined olive oil until further notice and reimposed an import duty on sesame seeds.