An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Food headed by the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, is meeting today to take a decision on allowing additional sugar exports, the Food Minister, Mr K.V. Thomas, said.

In April, the Government had allowed 5,00,000 tonnes of sugar exports under Open General Licence (OGL) scheme which enables shipment without any restrictions. However, the industry had last week demanded permission to export an additional 1.5 million tonnes in view of higher domestic output this year.

“The EGoM will discuss issues of allowing further sugar exports and distribution of additional foodgrains for APL families,” Mr Thomas told reporters here.

The panel of ministers will also consider the suggestions of the Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, with regard to additional sugar exports, he said.

Mr Pawar, who is one of the key members of the EGoM, will not be present at the meeting, as he is in Paris for the G-20 meeting.

Last week, Mr Pawar had written a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, urging him to allow further export of sugar, as India has only one month to cash in on the high global prices of the sweetener.

There is a case for more export of sugar, as domestic production is high and global prices are ruling firm at a premium of Rs 500-600 per quintal vis-a-vis domestic sugar prices, he had said.

Sugar production in India, the world’s second largest producer and biggest consumer, is estimated at 24.2 mt in the 2010-11 season (October-September) against 18.8 mt in the previous season. Annual domestic demand for sugar stands at 22-22.5 mt.

Meanwhile, according to sources, the Food Ministry has proposed to distribute 5 mt of grains to 11.5 crore APL families via ration shops till March 2012, in addition to the already allocated stocks, to create space for the new crops.

The Government had earlier announced a similar plan for both APL and BPL families, but offtake by state governments has been poor.

Foodgrain stocks with the government had risen to an all-time high of 65.60 mt as of June 1 due to bumper crop production last year and higher procurement prices. The country has a total storage capacity of 62 mt.

(This article was published on June 23, 2011)
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