While Planning Commission deputy chairman and EGoM member Montek Singh Ahluwalia is believed to have pushed for additional exports of up to 10 lakh tonnes, food minister KV Thomas insisted that exports of only five lakh tonnes may be permitted keeping in view of high demand in the coming festive season and high retail prices
New Delhi: Amid estimates of sugar output exceeding demand this year, the government on Thursday allowed exports of additional 5 lakh tonnes of sugar under the Open General Licence (OGL), reports PTI.
“The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) has approved additional export of 5 lakh tonnes of sugar,” food minister KV Thomas told PTI after a meeting of the EGoM on food here.
Some members of the EGoM, including Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, are s believed to have pushed for additional exports of up to 10 lakh tonnes.
According to sources, Mr Thomas insisted that exports of only five lakh tonnes may be permitted keeping in view of high demand in the coming festive season and high retail prices.
They added that the food minister noted that interests of both farmers and consumers need to be protected as well.
Besides Mr Ahluwalia and Mr Thomas, home minister P Chidambaram and rural development minister Vilasrao Deshmukh were among those who were present in the meeting of the EGoM, which is headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar was not present as he is away in Paris to attend the Group of Twenty (G-20) meeting.
The sugar sector is fully controlled by the government which allows exports under OGL from time to time after taking into account the supply-demand situation.
According to government estimates, sugar output in India, the world’s second largest producer and biggest consumer, is projected at 24.2 million tonnes (mt) in the 2010-11 (October- September).The annual domestic demand stands at 22-22.5 mt.
In view of projected output, the industry has been pressing for additional sugar exports of 15 lakh tonnes.
At present, retail sugar prices are ruling in the range of Rs30-Rs32 per kg and in some parts are still ruling at Rs40 a kg.
Last week, MR Pawar had written to prime minister Manmohan Singh urging him to allow further export of sugar as India only had a month to cash in on high global prices of the sweetener.
There is a case for more export of sugar, as domestic production is high and global prices are ruling firm at a premium of Rs500-Rs600 per quintal vis-à-vis domestic sugar prices, he had said.
Mr Pawar had reasoned that additional export of sugar will reduce the burden on sugar mills of the high stocks and improve their cash flows to tide over the ensuring financial crisis and payment to farmers.
The food minister informed the EGoM that it would take an informed decision on removing stock holding limit on sugar in September as retail prices are not declining in the pace of ex-mill prices, sources added.
In April, the government had allowed 5,00,000 tonnes of sugar exports under OGL, which enables shipment without any restrictions.
In view of higher sugar output, the industry had been pressing for additional sugar export of 15 lakh tonnes.
The brief postponement may also have been to take on board the opinion of the Congress Working Committee, the ruling Congress party’s highest decision making body, which is meeting later today
New Delhi: The much-anticipated meeting of a high-power panel of ministers on raising fuel prices has been put-off by a few hours to study more options, reports PTI.
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was scheduled to meet at 1300 hours today, but was put off to later in the day. This followed an hour-long meeting Mr Mukherjee had with oil minister S Jaipal Reddy at noon where various scenarios were discussed.
“The meeting of the EGoM has been postponed to 1900 hours,” Mr Reddy told reporters after meeting Mr Mukherjee. “We are working on more options (on fuel price hike and duty rejig as an answer to spiralling crude oil prices). A decision will be announced after the meeting.”
He, however, refused to divulge details of his discussions with Mr Mukherjee and the options before the government.
“I will not indulge in speculation,” he said.
The brief postponement may also have been to take on board the opinion of the ruling Congress party’s highest decision making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which is meeting later today.
Raising diesel, domestic LPG and possibly kerosene rates is a politically sensitive decision and the government wants to take all sections on board before taking a decision.
Mr Reddy said the brief postponement is also because a revision in prices, if done, would be effected from midnight tonight.
Any price increase is announced closer to this deadline to avoid hoarding by petrol pump owners, who have in the past shown a tendency to put up ‘no-stock’ signs so as to earn quick money by selling fuel they bought at the old price, after the new rates have come into effect.
Earlier in the day, Mr Reddy had stated that his ministry had not made any specific proposal on the quantum of increase or the duty cut desired.
He said only a detailed analysis of the scenario developing from a spike in rates of international crude oil, on which India depends on to meet more than three quarters of its energy needs, has been submitted to the EGoM.
“My ministry has given no proposal (on fuel price hike or duty reduction) to the EGoM,” Mr Reddy had told PTI here. “We have offered an analysis and the same will be discussed at the EGoM meeting.”
“Nothing (on quantum of hike in diesel, domestic LPG or kerosene price as well as reduction in customs and excise duties) has been circulated. Any speculations (on these) are unfounded,” Mr Reddy added.
Besides Mr Reddy, the EGoM headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee includes agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, road transport minister CP Joshi, chemical and fertiliser minister MK Alagiri and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
Mr Pawar and Mr Alagiri are unlikely to attend the EGoM meeting as they are not in town.
State-owned oil firms are together projected to lose a whopping Rs1,66,712 crore in revenues this fiscal on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at government-controlled rates, which are way below the market price. The EGoM will deliberate on measures including an increase in the retail price, duty reduction and government subsidy, to tackle this loss.
Oil firms currently lose Rs15.44 per litre on diesel, Rs27.47 per litre on kerosene and Rs381.14 on the sale of every 14.2-kg domestic LPG cylinder.
Not only is the campaign irritating, but the ads are also very wicked
Micromax, a cell-phone maker, was a late entrant in the desi market. And by the time it launched, the cell-bazaar was dominated by big brands with deep pockets. So the marketer had to do something totally different to get noticed. And quite interestingly, they chose the path of what I call 'offensive irreverence'. In the sense that not only are the ads very wicked, they also provoke you in an irritating way.
Since the brand has stayed this course for well over a year now, it's quite possible the approach has paid off for them. While I personally abhor Micromax's advertising in general, I think it's time someone did a case study to suss why consumers buy into such otherwise repulsive advertising.
Following the jazzy Bling1 high-end phone, Micromax has launched Bling2. It's an 'Android 2.2 touch Smartphone that comes studded with elegant Swarovski Zirconia', according to the ad. And it follows in the footsteps of Micromax's very irritating ad strategy. The setting is a ballet performance. The ad is obviously inspired by the Oscar-award winning film, 'Black Swan'. Twinkle Khanna (actor Akshay Kumar's missus) is in the audience and seems to be enjoying the action. A white swan couple is romancing and getting cuddly.
Suddenly, a black swan arrives along with her troupe, and tries to distract the male white swan. And she seems to be succeeding in her efforts. Twinkle is unhappy. And does the same thing she did in the earlier commercial with the ramp models. She dazzles the evil black swan with her Micromax Bling2. The black swan trips and falls on the stage. Much to Twinkle's delight.
I dare say, this sort of a juvenile ad would appeal to the children and to the childish. According to me, disturbing a theatre performance is NOT funny, in fact, it's almost criminal. I would never buy a brand whose ads brazenly promote offensive public behaviour. Sure, I am all for fun and wit, but repulsive behaviour in an ad cannot be condoned. God knows this nation is already infested with people with very little knowledge of good public place behaviour. And Micromax is both feeding on it and encouraging it.
Having said that, I must admit it's an interesting case. I fear there is a section of people who are actually enjoying this kind of crude work. If so, it's quite sad. But this doesn't speak very highly of us viewers, though.