Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said the government will soon take decision on importing sugar, a move that could boost domestic availability and check prices in view of the upcoming festive season. Sugar production in India, the world's second largest producer, is estimated to decline to around 21 million tonnes (MT) in 2016-17 season ending September from 25 MT in the previous year.
The annual demand is 24-25 MT. The government had in April allowed duty free import of 5 lakh tonnes of raw sugar to boost domestic supply. "Government will soon take a decision on the need to import sugar," Paswan said in a tweet. Last month, the government had imposed stock limit on sugar mills for the next two months to keep prices in check during the festive season. By the end of September, a mill cannot keep more than 21 per cent of its total sugar availability for the entire 2016- 17 marketing year and a factory cannot hold more than 8 per cent at the end of October, according to the government notification issued last month. Sugar is selling at an average price of Rs 42 per kg in the retail market, while branded sweetener is available at Rs 50 per kg. In July, the government had increased import duty on sugar to 50 per cent, up from 40 per cent, to restrict cheap inward shipments and maintain domestic prices.
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