FoodMin officials brief Rangarajan comm on sugar decontrol
New Delhi: The expert committee, appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on sugar decontrol, was on Thursday given a detail presentation on different aspects of the sugar industry, including levy sugar and exports.
Senior Food Ministry officials gave a comprehensive outlook on the various issues the sugar sector is facing to the committee, which is headed by Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan.
"We briefed the committee about different aspects of sugar industry including levy sugar, cane area, exports, etc," a senior official of the ministry, who was part of the exercise, told PTI.
The official said that the half-day deliberation was comprehensive and fruitful.
In January this year, the Prime Minister had formed the panel to examine the issues related to decontrolling of the sugar sector. The committee is likely to submit its report in six months.
The members of the committee include Chief Economic Advisor in Finance Ministry Kaushik Basu, Food Secretary B C Gupta, Agriculture Secretary P K Basu, Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) Chairman Ashok Gulati, former Agriculture Secretary Nand Kumar and K P Krishnan, Secretary EAC.
The sugar industry is currently under the government control, right from the level of production to distribution.
Sugar industry bodies, Indian Sugar Mills Association and National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories are seeking partial decontrol of the sector, including freedom to sell sugar in the open market and doing away with the levy obligation for the Public Distribution System (PDS).
Under the levy obligation, sugar mills are required to sell 10 percent of their output to the government at below-cost rates for supply to ration shops.
According to the sugar mills associations, they supply levy sugar at 60 percent of the cost of production, resulting in an annual industry loss of about Rs 2,500-3,000 crore.
The industry has also been demanding removal of the monthly release system under which the food ministry allocates the quantity of sugar to be sold in the open market every month.
Sugar production in India, the world's second-largest producer but the largest consumer, is estimated to touch 26 million tonnes against the annual demand of 22 million tonnes.