Mumbai

Bittersweet news for the common man

State asks sugar mills to export over 10 lakh tonnes; Minister says Rs 4-5 hike will benefit farmers

After tur dal cut a hole in household budgets, sugar prices are now set to rise. The Maharashtra government has given its green signal to export more sugar, and the prices are likely to go up by Rs 4 to 5.

The government on Monday announced that cooperative sugar mills would be allowed to export 10 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of sugar, a move to ensure cash flow and help the mills pay fair and remunerative price (FRP) to sugarcane farmers. Sugar mills have been communicating to the government their inability to pay FRP to farmers citing paucity of funds.

“As it is, the sugar rates have increased from Rs 19 to 29. Following the decision, it is likely that prices will increase by Rs 4 to 5. However, consumers must understand that this is to ensure cash to farmers,” said Cooperation Minister Chandrakant Patil.

Mr Patil said the only way to check inflation is to sell sugar through the Public Distribution System (PDS). “If people are ready to stand in queue to save two or three rupees, then we will think of selling it through PDS,” he said, asking people to be considerate of the farmers’ condition, who are not getting FRP for their produce.

The decision was taken at a meeting at the YB Chavan Centre, in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, former Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Ministers Pankaja Munde, Chandrakant Patil, and representatives of cooperative sugar mills.

As per the Centre’s policy on sugar export, the country will be exporting approximately 40 lakh MT of sugar, of which 14 lakh MT will be Maharashtra’s contribution. Until now, only 3.98 lakh MT of sugar have been exported.

“Those sugar mills not complying with the order will not get exemption in purchase tax. However, drought-prone areas such Marathwada can be exempted,” said Mr Patil.

Brazil is one of the biggest exporters of sugar in the world. However, Brazil’s season is to begin two months later. “We want to take the lead as we have enough storage available,” he said.

Among other benefits, sugar mills are exempt from purchase tax for 10 years, as they also generate electricity. The Centre pays around 10 per cent interest on the soft loans the mills take for one year, and the States pay the interest for the next four years. These benefits will be withdrawn if sugar is not exported.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 12:29:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/maharashtra-asks-sugar-mills-to-export-over-10-lakh-tonnes/article8270615.ece

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