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Updated: March 5, 2010 20:25 IST

Manmohan admits to failure on sugar front

PTI
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The Prime Minister said the government had failed to realise the cyclical nature of the sugarcane crop. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
The Hindu The Prime Minister said the government had failed to realise the cyclical nature of the sugarcane crop. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

"I do admit weakness," said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha. Supporting Agriculture Minister Sharad pawar's stand, the Prime Minister attributed rising food prices to the government's inability to deal with the cyclical nature of the sugar crop.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday admitted to government’s failure on the sugar front which led to a steep rise in prices of the commodity and said ways and means need to be explored to see that the crisis does not recur.

“If there is a failure of economic policy, it is with regard to sugar....we have not been able to find a practical and pragmatic way to deal with the cyclical behaviour of sugarcane production,” Dr. Singh told the Rajya Sabha, while replying to the debate on Motion of Thanks to President’s Address.

“I do admit weakness,” he said about the government’s failure to realise the cyclical nature of the crop which changes every two to three years. His statement assumes significance as Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has been attributing the sharp increase in sugar prices to the cyclical nature of the crop.

Mr. Pawar has been under attack over food inflation, particularly sugar. Even sections within the Congress have been unhappy with his handling of the crisis. While food inflation is still ruling above 17 per cent, sugar prices in particular had touched Rs 50 a kg before declining to Rs 43 per kilo.

The Prime Minister, however, rejected the Opposition charge of a scam, saying sugar exports were negligible and were carried out to meet the country’s international obligations.

In the Lok Sabha, he said ways and means had to be found to stabilise the sugar economy.

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