<p>Within three days of the ministry of food allowing “free” sugar exports under the open general licence, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has imposed restrictions similar to the control it did for cotton earlier this month.
The DGFT, reversing the food ministry’s May 11 order, has not only made registration mandatory, but has also put a quantitative restriction of 10,000 tonnes by an individual exporter. The DGFT has also clarified that an exporter can be granted a registration certificate (RC) for a maximum 10,000 tonnes at a time. To obtain a second RC, the exporter would require to execute the export order and give to the DGFT all relevant details.
The May 14 circular has another factor that some find most embarrassing: penalty for an exporter who fails to execute an order within 30 days from the date of issuance of such certificate. According to the policy, the exporter would be liable to pay not less than Rs 10,000 and not more than five times the value of the goods, whichever is more.
The Indian Sugar Mills Association (Isma) said the latest DGFT order amounted to “complete reversal” of the logic behind the decision taken at a May 2 inter-ministerial meeting chaired by the prime minister, which freed export of quantitative and time restrictions — the need for release orders from the directorate of sugar was done away with. Instead of the release orders, the mills have to get registration and for a maximum of 10,000 tonnes.
“This is in total contradiction to the food ministry’s May 11 notification, which did not put in place any such quantity or time restrictions,” according to Isma director-general Abinash Verma. “Such a registration requirement and control, as ordered by the DGFT, will badly stall sugar export. There is almost no way now the mills would be able to clear cane arrears of a whopping Rs 10,000 crore.”
One shipload of sugar requires at least 25,000 tonnes, which is not the quantity that one exporter would usually get. The DGFT’s restriction proves unworkable, he claimed. “We, therefore, appeal for the immediate withdrawal of the DGFT notification and allow unrestricted sugar exports as per notification issued by the food ministry,” Verma added.
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has decided to take up the matter and find a solution.