After the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) workers on Monday raided the godown in Navi Mumbai and destroyed the sugar bags which were imported from Pakistan, Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena over the import of sugar.
Almost 40 per cent of the sugar mills in the country may not be able to take advantage of the recently-announced financial assistance package by the Centre.
Acting upon a recommendation made by a Group of Ministers, which consisted of Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, the Cabinet on May 2 chose to give farmers an assistance of ₹55 per tonne of sugarcane crushed during the current sugar season to bring down mills' dues to farmers. Several of them also owned sugar factories of their own. But, the total domestic consumption in the country is only about 25 million tonnes, besides which there is also a carryforward stock of four million tonnes. I can understand that liberalisation in import-export policies means that a lot of these things are not in the control of the government.
"And if we include transport charges, the price of sugar will be over Rs 40 per kilogram as ex-mill price is now ruling at Rs 26-27 per kilogram", industry sources said.
Speaking at a function in the wholesale APMC market on Monday, Deshmukh said, "The sugar production in the country has been very good".
According to an industry source, many sugar mills were compelled to sell the stock beyond permitted limits because some didn't have enough storage capacity as the production was almost 50 per cent more than that in the previous season, others because the "State governments were compelling them" to clear the cane dues of farmers, the source said. "In the last year's season, a huge stock of sugar is lying in godowns, against the rate of 40 to 42 per kg, now the rates have fallen to 25 per kg". However, no formal decision was taken, as such a move would have cost the cash-strapped Sena-BJP government about Rs 3,200 crore. "No special permission was given for import".
"There is bound to be some reaction if sugar has been imported from Pakistan". Referring to his earlier announcement, he said that even if the state government were to buy the sugar, the stock would remain idle in its warehouses. "We are in touch with the Central and are trying to find finding ways to encourage it", he added. The sugar imported from Pakistan is of Chishtian and Laluvalli Sindh brand. "It is a drop in the ocean", he said.
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