Govt to allow 5 lakh tonnes of sugar exports

New Delhi: Food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said the government will allow sugar export of 5 lakh tonnes to gain from high global prices adding that the shipments won’t impact domestic retail prices, reports PTI.

Mr Pawar also announced the hike in levy sugar price for the ongoing 2010-11 season (October-September) at Rs18.47/kg, against Rs17.57/kg last season. The government buys sugar (known as levy sugar) from mills for supply via ration shops.

“With the prediction of good production and to take the advantage of good international prices, the government has already permitted exports against the pending ALS (Advance Licence Scheme) obligations,” Mr Pawar said at the 76th annual general meeting of Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) here.

“In order to further maximise our return, the first tranche of export of around 5 lakh tonnes under the OGL (open general licence) will also be permitted,” he added.

On whether exports will have any impact on retail prices, Mr Pawar said, “I don't think. If production is more, it will not affect domestic prices.” At present, retail prices are ruling around Rs30-Rs31 per kg in the national capital.

The Department of Food and Public Distribution will work out the modalities of sugar export within 10 days, Mr Pawar said, adding that the ministry will ensure that mills get equal opportunity to benefit from the export.

“We appreciate that any export in near future will get rich dividend considering the international prices. This will help in giving good cane prices to the farmers,” he said.

Stressing that exports would be linked with production, the minister said the government will assess sugar output every month and thereafter will take a decision on allowing more quantity for export under OGL.

OGL is a permit the government gives to mills to export sugar without any restriction and conditions.

The government had earlier allowed the export of about 1.5 million tonnes of sugar through the Advance License Scheme (ALS) and imported stocks stuck at ports.

Under ALS, mills have to fulfil their export obligation of about one million tonnes of sugar by March, 2011 against the duty-free imports during 2004-2009 period.

Announcing the hike in levy sugar prices, the minister said, “The average all-India provision price of levy sugar will be Rs1847.05 per quintal as against last year's average Rs1757.50 per quintal. This will further help in boosting the liquidity for the mills.”

The government has pegged sugar production in the 2010-11 season at 24.5 million tonnes, against 19 million tonnes last year. However, the industry is expecting higher production of 25.5 million tonnes.

On decontrol of the sugar industry, Mr Pawar said, “The issue is under consideration of the government and has been discussed at the highest level.”

Pointing out that demand for sugar is increasing, the minister said that there is a need to increase sugarcane yield to at least 80 tonne per hectare from the current level of 67-71 tonnes.

On compulsory packing of sugar in jute bags, the minister said that the issue has been taken up with the textiles ministry and “it is hoped that an acceptable solution to the problem would be found.”

He, however, urged the industry to take steps to comply with the international norms on packing sugar in 50 kg bags.

Justifying his special attention to the sugar sector, Mr Pawar said, “I would like to emphasise that my services will always be available to this vibrant sector, which is the largest agro-processing rural industry in the country catering to around 50 million farmers and 5 lakh workforces and which encompasses around 7% of the rural population.”

In 2009-10, around Rs46,000 crore was paid to cane farmers and “this year also we expect an increase,” he said.

Mr Pawar said the interest of farmers and consumers will “always be overriding priority of my ministry” and asked the industry to reciprocate in shouldering its responsibilities. 


EU, India resolve generic drugs dispute: EU trade chief

Toronto: The dispute between the European Union (EU) and India over the transit of generic drugs through Europe has been resolved, reports PTI quoting EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

“We have discussed this in detail with our Indian counterpart,” Mr De Gucht said during a visit to Ottawa, Canada, for free trade talks.

“I think it’s fair to say that in substance we have an agreement, but to put this into practice, we have to modify European regulations or European legislation... and we have to do that through the co-decision procedure, which obviously takes some time,” he said.

“But on substance we have an agreement,” Mr De Gucht added.

He offered no details on the deal.


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