Sugar decontrolling initiatives should be gradual

New Delhi, Sep 1 (PTI) India should emulate the Brazilian process of decontrolling the sugar sector by moving gradually, as sudden freeing of the sector could hurt farmers' interest, reports PTI quoting an international sugarcane body.

Brazil, the world's largest sugar producer, took around seven years to make the sector free from the government controls in 1997 fuelling a sustained growth to the sector.

"We took seven years to decontrol the sector. India needs to follow a gradual process. If deregulated too quickly, there could be problem with the farmers. It has to go step by step so that agents, particularly farmers, can adjust accordingly," Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association president Marcus Jank told reporters on the sidelines of a conference here.

To start with India can do away with the monthly release quota system and levy sugar that the millers have to provide to the government at a subsidised cost for distribution through the public distribution system, Mr Jank suggested.

Right from the production till the distribution, Indian sugar sector is controlled by the government. The food ministry allocates the monthly quota that mills sell in open market, as well as through ration shops. Besides that, mills are required to sell 20% of their output to the government for distribution under the public distribution system (PDS).

Food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had recently said the time is ripe for freeing the sugar sector from all the government controls and a proposal in this regard will be ready soon. The industry bodies have been demanding the total of the sector to bring competitiveness and professionalism in the sector.

"Total decontrol is likely to be very complicated. In Brazil, we started decontrolling in 1991 and completed the process in 1997 as it takes time to establish. India has much more farmers, so it has more social responsibility than ours," Mr Jank said.

However, highlighting the merits of total decontrolling of the sugar sector, he said that since the era begun in 1991, production of sugar in Brazil has gone up by five timers till 2010.

Meanwhile, Mr Jank said that the sugar production in Brazil for the 2010-11 sugar year would be around 37 million tonnes, including 33.7 million tonnes in the South-Central region of the Latin American country.


Bridge demand, supply gap in power for sustained growth: PM

Tirupati: Laying the foundation stone of a Rs6,000 crore power equipment manufacturing plant near here, prime minister Manmohan Singh today said the nation needs to bridge the gap between demand and supply of electricity for sustained economic growth, reports PTI.

"Availability of affordable power is of critical importance to development of agriculture and industries," Mr Singh said.

Stressing upon the need to bridge the gap between demand and supply of electricity, he said that it was the "only way to achieve higher rates of economic growth on sustainable basis."

India has installed capacity of over 1.62 lakh MW, and the power deficit is about 13%-14%. The government plans to add over 78,000 MW by March 2012, the end of the current 11th Plan Period.

The new plant, NTPC BHEL Power Projects Pvt Ltd (NBPPL), will go on stream in 2014-15 and produce equipment to support 5,000 MW of power generation capacity, Mr Singh said after laying the foundation stone at Mannavaram near here.

This will be India's first integrated plant that will manufacture turbines, generators and boilers.

India has ambitious power generation capacity addition targets in the 11th (2007-12) and 12th (2012-17) Five Year Plan periods, Mr Singh said, adding that large additional capacity targets mean big demand for power equipment.

"I'm very happy that our public sector has come forward to take lead in manufacturing power equipment to help us achieve our target in power sector," he said.

NBPPL is a 50:50 joint venture between state-owner power generator NTPC Ltd and equipment manufacturer Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL).

Mr Singh said the joint venture brings together vast experience and expertise of NTPC and BHEL.

"It will provide direct employment to 6,000 men and women and indirect employment to another 25,000 people," he said, adding, "I greatly appreciate the vision of Andhra Pradesh to have large industrial hub around this plant."

Mr Singh added, "I'm sure that this innovative manufacturing plant will go a long way in improving economic condition of people of this backward area."

NBPPL chairman and managing director C P Singh said the JV would help meet huge emerging demand for setting up of new power projects in the country.


India's telecom sector most favourite among foreign investors

New Delhi: India attracted $891 million (Rs4,023 crore) foreign direct investment (FDI) in the telecommunications segment in the first two months of the current fiscal, the highest among all sectors, reports PTI.

The telecommunications sector, including radio paging, cellular mobile, basic telephone services, had attracted $612 million (Rs3,055 crore) during April-May 2009-10.

It was followed by services sector that attracted $587 million investment, metallurgical industries ($461 million) and power ($313 million) in that order during the period.

The country managed to attract $4.42 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) during April-May 2010-11, while it was $4.43 billion in the year ago month, according to the latest official data.

The highest FDI of $1.29 billion came from Mauritius followed by Singapore ($854 million), Japan ($369 million) and the Netherlands ($298 million) in April-May 2010-11.

The government is making sustained efforts to make the FDI policy regime more attractive and investor friendly, with a view to attract investments from all major investing countries.

The government had floated discussion papers for public comments to liberalise FDI in multi-brand retail and defence sector.

The FDI for 2009-10 at $25.88 billion was lower by 5% from $27.33 billion in the previous fiscal.


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