Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday dismissed the reports of shortage of sugar in the country and ruled out the possibility of zero duty sugar import at this juncture. “The sugar season starts in October. The closing stock (balance from previous season) this season will be about 42 lakh tonnes, which will be able to meet our demands in October and November. Also, we have asked state to start to ensure cane crushing by October. We do no think there will be any need of zero duty import,” Paswan told the media here.
He added that the government may import sugar if the situation worsens. “But we do not see any problem with sugar availability at this juncture,” Paswan said. The government had in April this year allowed zero duty sugar import up to five lakh tonnes to boost domestic supplies and check price rise amid production fall. The production of sugarcane in the next season looked good owing to favourable weather conditions, the minister said.
Paswan said the total availability this season (October 2016-September 2017) was 279 lakh tonnes following production of 204 lakh tonnes with a closing stock of 70 lakh tonnes and imports of four lakh tonnes this summer. The minister also added that the import duty on pulses had been increased to 25 per cent in the backdrop of a fall in prices in the domestic market.