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Decision on sugar decontrol soon: Thomas

Posted on Feb 18, 10:08PM | IBNS

New Delhi, Feb 18 : The union government is likely to take a decision within next 15 days on the suggestions of committee headed by Dr. C. Rangarajan, chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (PMEAC), set up last year to study sugar decontrol, minister of state (I/C) for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, K.V. Thomas said here.

"All recommendations from Dr. Rangarajan have been assessed, examined and our views have been taken and this now has been circulated and I think within next 15 days we would able to take a decision on all the issues like levy of sugar, release mechanisms and others which the committee has studied," said Thomas while inaugurating "11th National Conference on Commodity Futures Market-The Way Forward", organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

"India's position with regards to sugar is very comfortable," said Thomas while assuring that unlike the previous reports of the former committees, the government is going to implement the report of Dr. Rangarajan which is already before the department.

Talking about the government's plan to allow private traders to export wheat, Thomas said: "We are also thinking of allowing private traders to export wheat from the central pool and consultations on the same are going on and is being circulated to the CCA which will also decide the quantity."

The minister also said that this year the wheat production in India will be four million tonnes more than the last year and the government has allowed the trade to have a free export policy.

"While looking at the food security bill we found that some quantity of the wheat has to go out of the country and considering that this year we have to procure about four million tonnes more than last year i.e. may be about 41 million tonnes, some quantity of the wheat has to be taken out from the warehouses of the Food Corporation of India (FCI)."

The minister said that fortunately India's existing wheat stock is just two years old and to replace it with the new stock the government has decided to give more to state governments under various schemes, open market sales of wheat and export the remaining stock which will be beneficial for the government.

On the issue of commodity transaction tax (CTT), Thomas said that the consumer affairs ministry held discussions with various stakeholders in October-November and has thus expressed an impartial and independent view on it in October to the finance ministry.

"Since we are looking after the consumer interest basically what we feel is that benefit should go to farmers and the consumers but it is for the finance ministry to analyse that and take a final view."

The minister also informed that government is going to further strengthen the test house at Kolkata and others across the country to ensure quality testing of the food items and agricultural products in these test houses.

In his special address at the ASSOCHAM conference, Ramesh Abhishek, chairman of the Forward Markets Commission (FMC), said: "Main challenge of the futures market is underdeveloped ecosystem of the physical commodity market and these issues can be resolved once we've a uniform goods and services tax (GST) and reforms in the APMC (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee) and this would ensure smooth movement of goods around the country."

Pankaj Agarwala, secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, who also addressed the ASSOCHAM conference, said that futures market has to be properly regulated to ensure that intended benefits are provided to the farmers, hedgers and all the stakeholders and there should be no misuse of the market.