The Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded a CBI inquiry into a “scandal” that involved cheap export of sugar and subsequent import at more than twice the price six months later.
Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said it was the collective responsibility of the Cabinet and there should be a proper inquiry.
Citing high stocks, the United Progressive Alliance government allowed import of 48 lakh tonnes of sugar at Rs.12 a kg. This happened at a time when it ought to have been aware that sugar output could fall in the next season due to a drop in sugarcane acreage.
Six months later, there was the expected shortfall in sugar availability, leading to an all-time high price in the retail market. The government then decided to import 70 lakh tonnes of sugar at Rs. 27 a kg.
Mr. Javadekar alleged that these facts reeked of a scandal that needed to be investigated. In Uttar Pradesh, sugarcane growers were on an agitation demanding higher prices from mills. The UPA government policies led to consumers paying record prices for sugar, while farmers were not getting a remunerative price for cane, Mr. Javadekar said.
Commodity market speculation
Simultaneously, speculation in the commodity market was pushing up the price of sugar, foodgrains and other essential items at the cost of both the consumer and the farmer, even as middlemen raked in profits, the BJP spokesperson alleged.
For some reason, edible oil import from Malaysia and other countries had also gone up steeply, he said.
Mr. Javadekar said the UPA was behaving as if electoral victories had given it a mandate to raise prices, which it was doing with impunity — petrol and diesel prices after the 2009 elections, milk prices, bus and metro fares in Delhi, and a 17 per cent inflation in the price of edible articles.