Duty-free import of sugar only after review

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 23 2008, 06:31am hrs
The government is set to take a decision on allowing the duty-free import of raw sugar without any export obligation only after reviewing the sugar availability and price situation in the country.

In the coming week, the government is likely to announce the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat in the current season. Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the 74th AGM of Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) on Monday, the Union food and agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar said that there was no immediate proposal to lift the ban on rice export. He also assured that there would be no immediate hike in import duty for crude palm oil (CPO). We will move only when the market prices of oilseeds fall below the MSP, the minister said. Pawar also said that the government had a surplus wheat stock which needed to be offloaded.

Regarding the demand for allowing the duty-free import of raw sugar, the minister said : "We are at present assessing the sugar availability and price situation. In UP, Karnataka and Maharashtra, sugar recovery and cane productivity is low. Sugar output in 2008-09 is likely to decline to 20 million tonne while it was expected at 22 million tonne. Some say that it would be in the range of 18 - 18.5 million tonne. Pawar said that the government was earlier prepared to fully deregulate the industry, while a section of them was opposed to it.