The Centre has decided to assist sugar mills by providing soft loans to enable purchase of adequate machinery to process raw sugar for production of white/refined sugar simultaneously with the crushing of sugarcane.
The loans would be given by the Department of Food and Public Distribution from the Sugar Development Fund at an interest rate of four per cent annually. The sugar mills would be required to apply for the loans by November 30. The loans would be disbursed by December 31, according to official sources.
The sugar factories would be required to repay the loan along with the interest thereof in four years from the date of disbursement in four equal annual instalments.
The machinery that mills can purchase include melt filtration system, melt clarification system, melter with complete automation.
With sugar prices surging in the market and estimates of a low production this year, the government had allowed mills to import raw and refined sugar to augment availability. In addition, the government is in talks with the industry to provide additional levy for the public distribution system during the festival season.
Limit on stocks
Meanwhile, the government on Monday put limit on the quantity of sugar bulk consumers like biscuit manufacturers and ice cream makers can keep, restricting them from stocking no more than 15 days of supplies.
The limit would be in force for six months, an official statement said.
The move comes as sugar prices have doubled to Rs. 35 a kg in a year’s time, as production fell. Besides, fears of a poor crop next season due to failed monsoon fuelled prices.
The statement said the stockholding limit has been imposed on consumers, “whose average consumption of sugar is in excess of 10 quintal a month, that they shall not keep in stock, at any manner, sugar exceeding 15 days of such use or consumption for six months.”