New Delhi: Parliament on Friday passed a bill to
remove legal ambiguity in pricing of levy sugar which the
government buys from mills for supply through ration shops.
"This amendment is simply to remove legal ambiguity in the
Essential Commodities Act," Minister of State for Agriculture
K V Thomas said in the Rajya Sabha while replying to a debate
on the amendment bill.
Last year, amendments were made to the Act for fixing the
levy price on the basis of cane price decided by Centre and
not on arbitrary prices determined by mills and growers.
This amendment was effective till September 30, last year.
The present amendment extends it to beyond September 2009.
Under the system of partial control, 20 per cent of sugar
produced by mills is requisitioned by the government to be
sold at ration shops.
Presently, the government buys levy sugar at Rs 17.75 per
kg and sells it at subsidised rates to over 6.58 crore ration
Thomas said the amendment in the legislation was required
to plug the legal loophole, which was being used by millers to
extract higher levy price from the government.
Participating in the debate, Tapan Kumar Sen (CPI-M)
alleged that the Essential Commodities Act was manipulated
during the NDA regime in favour of traders.
Instead of amendment in the present Act, "there is an
urgent requirement to bring a comprehensive legislation," he
Kaptan Singh Solanki (BJP) demanded de-controlling the
prices of sugar on the pattern of Brazil and Mexico, which are
leading producers of the commodity.
Satyavrat Chaturvedi (Cong) said the government should fix
a minimum and a maximum price not only for sugar but all
essential commodities, expanding the ambit of items under
T M Selvaganapathi (DMK) said there should be a holistic
approach in controlling the price of sugar.
The fair remunerative price (FRP) fixed by government is
insufficient, he said and stressed that "farmers need to be
N Balaganga (AIADMK), D Raja (CPI), Prabha Thakur (Cong)
and Prakash Javedekar (BJP) also participated in the debate.