New Delhi, August 12: The country has sufficient stock of sugar available and there are no plans to allow further imports of the sweetener at zero duty, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said Saturday.
In order to ensure smooth sugar supply and stable prices in the new season starting October 2017, the government has asked mills to commence crushing operations early.
Prices are stable now and are expected to remain so in the coming festival season, he added.
Last month, import duty on sugar was hiked to 50 per cent to restrict cheap imports.
“The domestic availability of sugar is sufficient to meet the demand. We have already allowed duty-free import of 5 lakh tonnes. No plans to further allow duty-free imports,” Paswan told reporters.
The country has sugar supply of about 27.9 million tonnes (MT) in the current 2016-17 season (October-September). This includes an old stock of 7 MT and current year’s production of 20.4 MT and import of 5 lakh tonnes.
“This would be sufficient to meet the domestic demand till fresh sugar from the new crop is manufactured from October onwards,” he said.
Also, mills have been asked to start their crushing operations bit early so that new sugar is available in the market and prices remain under control, he added.
Paswan further said that about 4.2 MT of the current year’s sugar would be available to meet the local demand during the October-November period of this year when mills would be undertaking their crushing operations.
The monthly sugar demand is 2-2.5 MT.
Domestic production in the current 2016-17 season ending next month is estimated at 20.4 MT, lower than 25.1 MT last year.
No hike in wheat import duty
Ram Vilas Paswan further said the government has no immediate plans to hike wheat import duty from the existing 10 per cent. On March 28, an import duty of 10 per cent was imposed on wheat to curb shipments in view of record domestic output at around 97.44 million tonnes in 2016-17 crop year (July-June). Prior to that, there was no duty at all for nearly four months. “There are no immediate plans to increase import duty on wheat,” Paswan told reporters. PTI
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