Rs 8,000 cr package for sugar industry coming up: Paswan

Paswan also refuted suggestions that the package is linked to results faced by the ruling party in recent by-elections

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New Delhi: As the cane arrears crisis continues to intensify, the central government made it clear on Tuesday that a relief package of around Rs 8,000 crore was on the way.
While speaking to reporters on his ministry’s achievements, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said, “A proposal of Rs 8,000 crore has been sent to the Cabinet. Cabinet will take a decision.” As per sources, the Union Cabinet is scheduled to meet on Wednesday.
According to farmers’ estimates, nearly Rs 22,000 crore of cane payments are still due to them but cash-starved mills have been unable to meet requirements. 

The Rs 8,000-crore package will include provisions for the creation of a sugar buffer stock of 3 million tonnes, interest subsidy on Rs 4,500 crore loan to mills for expansion and creation of new ethanol capacity among others.

A bailout package has been worked out days after the BJP lost Lok Sabha by-poll in Kairana constituency in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s largest sugarcane producing state.

The current crisis in the sugar sector is primarily due to a substantial glut in the domestic market, which in turn has brought mill prices of sugar below the cost of production resulting in massive losses. Currently, the average ex-mill price of sugar is in the range of Rs 25.60-26.22 per kg.

The current package will be in addition to the measure the government had already taken, like doubling the import duty for sugar to 100% and removed export duties. It has also asked mills to export 2 million tonnes of sugar.

A bailout package has been worked out as sugar mills’ financial health has worsened due to sharp fall in prices following a record sugar production of over 31.6 million tonnes so far in the 2017-18 marketing year (October-September).

 

Last month, the government had announced a Rs 1,500 crore production-linked subsidy for sugarcane farmers to help millers pay cane payments.

The Centre has already doubled sugar import duty to 100% and scrapped export duty to check sliding domestic prices. It has also asked mills to export 2 million tonnes of sugar.