After doubling import duty and restricting domestic sales of sugar, the next measure lined up by the government is the abolition of 20% export duty on the sweetener to help mills realise better price. The food ministry is considering a proposal to remove the export duty so that any surplus sugar from the country can be shipped out easily. The commerce ministry scrapped minimum export price on onion, which was imposed to restrict shipments from the country, just a day after finance minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech announced liberalisation of agri export policy. “Sugar production is estimated to rise nearly 24.9 million tonne in 2017-18 season (October-September) from 20.2 million tonne in the previous year,” Union food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday. Since the current year’s production estimate was arrived at after taking views of state governments before sugarcane crushing began, another assement will be made later this month, he added.
The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) has revised upwards its current year production estimate to 26.1 million tonne from previous forecast of 25.1 million tonne in view of higher actual output, so far. India’s annual consumption is pegged at 24-25 million tonne. Paswan said the government has already doubled the import duty to 100% to check cheaper imports from Pakistan. There has also been quantitative restriction imposed on mills for domestic sales during February-March. Industry bodies ISMA and National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories (NFCSF) had last month sought hike in sugar import duty from 50% to 100% and scrapping of export duty of 20% to liquidate surplus stock.