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Govt mulls export curbs on sugar, wheat to check prices

Fearing price rise of essential food items due to poor monsoon, the government is considering imposing restrictions on sugar export and ban wheat shipments through private traders.



New Delhi: Fearing price rise of essential food items due to poor monsoon, the government is considering imposing restrictions on sugar export and ban wheat shipments through private traders.

"The Food Ministry is preparing a status note on exports of sugar, wheat and non-basmati rice for Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)," a senior government official said.

The ministry is considering various steps to rein in price rise of these items, which includes putting a cap on sugar exports at 1.5 million tonnes and suspending wheat shipments through private trade, the official said.

On the back of bumper production, the government had lifted four-year-old ban on wheat exports in September 2011. So far, 2 million tonnes of wheat has been exported.

In sugar, the Centre had allowed 2 million tonnes of exports in the initial few months of the current marketing year (October-September) and later in May 2012 put exports under the open general licence (OGL).

Although the country has surplus wheat and sugar output, prices of these two items have shown upward trend amid concern over possible fall in production following weak monsoon.

Sugar prices have risen by Rs 6-8 a kg in last one month and is ruling at about Rs 40 a kg in most parts of the country. As per government's inflation data, wheat prices have gone up by 7-8 percent in June from over the year-ago period.

The official, however, clarified that there is no plan to ban export of wheat from the government stocks.

Already, the Commerce Ministry has issued export permits for 1.48 million tonnes of sugar under the OGL, of which 0.86 million tonnes has been shipped.

On non-basmati rice, the official noted that prices are stable and there is no need to curb shipments at the moment. However, he said the ministry is keeping a close watch on prices of non-basmati rice.

The country has exported about six million tonnes of non-basmati rice since September 2011, when the government lifted ban on the shipment.

India harvested 104.32 million tonnes of rice, 93.90 million tonnes of wheat and 26 million tonnes of sugar in the 2011-12.

PTI

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