With retail sugar prices crossing Rs 40/kg, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today favoured ban on sugar futures trade in the interest of consumers. He said the ministry has also recommended that the duty difference between the crude and refined edible oils should be increased to 13 per cent from the current 7.5 per cent in order to protect domestic oilseeds processors.
At present, the duty on crude edible oil is 12.5 per cent, while it is 20 per cent on refined. “We have taken several measures to improve the liquidity of sugar mills to facilitate payment of cane arrears. We have taken enough steps for them, we don’t want prices to rise further. In the interest of consumers, we have recommended ban on sugar futures trading,” Paswan told reporters.
He said nothing has been decided on this issue yet. On August 22, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had held an inter-ministerial consultation on imposing ban on sugar futures trading in an effort to curb speculation and check price rise of the sweetener during festival season.
Asked about the edible oil industry’s demand to curb import of cheaper refined oils through duty realignment, Paswan said, “Our ministry has already recommended duty difference to be increased to 13 per cent.” On pulses, Paswan said the government is exploring entering into long term contract for import of pulses.
The minister recently returned from Brazil after a three-day visit. India’s sugar production is estimated to decline to 25 million tonnes in the 2015-16 season (October-September) from 28.3 million tonnes in the previous year.
The outlook for the next year is not encouraging as sugar production is pegged lower at 23.26 million tonnes. However, the industry body ISMA feels that there would be sufficient sugar stock to meet the domestic demand of 26 million tonnes as the country would have an opening stock of 7 million tonnes.
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