Even as the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said that the new sugar season would begin with much lower stocks than the previous year, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Food gave the green signal for removing the cap of one million tonnes on refined sugar imports to augment supplies and control sugar prices.

Import of refined sugar would now be as per requirement. The decision, however, was not announced officially as the model code of conduct is on following announcement of elections in three States.

Coming out of the EGoM meeting Union Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said, “Whatever decisions we have taken we cannot make public until we take prior approval of the Election Commission as the model code of conduct is in force.”

The meeting chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee discussed the availability of pulses, sugar and the proposed National Food Security Bill.

The meeting was informed that 4 million tonnes of raw sugar had been contracted. Of this 21.6 lakh tonnes had arrived. This will be refined when the crushing season begins and would be sold in the open market by October. So far out of the 6 lakh tonnes of refined sugar that had been contracted, about 1.98 lakh tonnes of refined sugar had already landed.

Stock holding limits

The meeting was also apprised of the imposition of stock holding limits on bulk consumers like manufactures of soft drinks, ice-cream and biscuits that would come into effect after September 12. These steps would augment availability and have a salutary effect on rising sugar prices.

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