Govt on a mission to control sugar price


As the government is under intense pressure from the Congress, which is bracing for the Assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to unveil steps to check the price of the sweetener early next week.

A major proposal before the government is to hike the levy sugar quota from the existing 10 per cent to 25 per cent. Currently, 10 per cent of the production at a factory is reserved for levy sugar for distribution under the Public Distribution System.

The remaining is distributed through a mechanism under which the government decides the quantum of sugar to be released every month in the open market by the factories.
At present, the price of sugar is hovering at Rs 32-35 a kg in the retail market against the last year’s Rs 17-20 a kg. The worrying factor is the report emanating from the market that the price would touch an all-time high of Rs 40-45 a kg soon. Even in the international market, the sweetener is trading at a 25-year high.

Union Minister of Agriculture Sharad Pawar held a series of meetings with the representatives of the sugar industries in the last two weeks to ensure adequate availability of sugar in the market. In a recent meeting, Pawar asked the state ministers concerned to take steps to curb hoarding and prevent artificial scarcity.

The government claims that the existing sugar stock would be sufficient to meet the requirements till October. But the worry is that the weak monsoon has dealt a blow to the standing sugar cane crop.

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