Maharashtra CM, Pawar want ban on export of onion, sugar to go

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 12, 2011

Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mr Prithviraj Chavan - Photo: Vivek Bendre   -  Business Line

The Centre is considering “at the highest level” the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mr Prithviraj Chavan's demand – echoed by the Union Agriculture Minister Mr Sharad Pawar as well – to completely lift the existing ban on exports of onion and sugar.

Disclosing this, the Commerce and Industry Minister Mr Anand Sharma, told reporters on Friday that the Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs has been asked to submit a detailed report on the crop size and current availability of onions. Once the report is ready, the Empowered Group of Ministers under the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, will take a view on lifting the ban.

Mr Chavan had called up Mr Sharma last night to discuss the issue and then wrote to him later. Mr Sharma said he immediately discussed it with Mr Mukherjee.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Secretary Dr Rahul Khullar, said that a decision on allowing sugar exports will be taken only after a final report on the current season's production comes in on February 15. The Government had earlier decided to hold back exports of 5,00,000 tonnes of sugar as prices of the item started rising, he said.

When asked how long the Centre will wait before lifting the ban on onion exports, Mr Sharma said given the volatility, nobody was in a position to give a timeline.

Asked if the reason for lifting the ban will be to ensure a better price to farmers, Mr Sharma said, “It is a demand and supply issue also. There should be adequate quantity available for the Indian consumer, and then exports make sense. However, we can take a view once we get the report.”

“There are many steps that the Government can take to alleviate the sufferings of the farmers. There are State and national federations which can step in to purchase (onions) at a better price so that the farmers do not suffer,” he said.

He said the Government was forced to impose an export ban and remove import duties when onion prices hit the roof.

“Now it is the reverse which is being reported as new crop has come in. It is true this (lifting the ban) was discussed (by the EGoM).”

Published on February 11, 2011

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