Report on sugar decontrol not to remain on backburner: Thomas

Report on sugar decontrol not to remain on backburner: Thomas New Delhi: The government will take a time- bound decision on the Rangarajan committee's recommendations on freeing sugar industry and its report will not be put on "backburner", Food Minister K V Thomas said Monday.

Asked if the government would take a timely decision on the Rangarajan committee's report, Thomas said: "It will not meet the fate of earlier reports and a timebound decision will be taken after.. Receiving views from the PMO."

Last week, the panel, set up by the Prime Minister in January this year under PMEAC Chairman C Rangarajan, released a report recommending scrapping of major government controls on the sugar sector to move towards the reform process.

The Rangarajan panel is third committee by the government to study reforms in the sugar sector. Suggestions of earlier panels -- Tuteja Committee and Thorat Committee -- have not been implemented yet.

Due weightage would be given to the recommendations of the Rangarajan Committee, Thomas told reporters after a meeting with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on the sugar sector related issues.

Way back in 1971-72 and 1978-79, the government had made attempts to decontrol the sector. In mid-2010, efforts were also initiated by former Food Minister Sharad Pawar in this regard.

According to the Rangarajan Committee's report, barring two key regulations with respect to fixing sugarcane price and sharing of 70 percent revenue by sugar firms with farmers, it has suggested giving freedom to mills to sell sugar in the open market and having a stable export and import policy.

It has recommended removal of obligation on part of mills to supply 10 percent of sugar at cheaper rate to the government to meet the ration shops demand.

In the long term, it has recommended doing away with the cane area reservation and minimum distance criteria besides suggesting removal of controls on by-products like molasses among others.

Asked if the government plans to impose minimum export price (MEP) on onion to ensure domestic supply, Thomas said, "Let it continue without MEP."

At present, onion exports have slowed down due to sluggish supply following drop in the kharif output. This has also put pressure on domestic prices.