Cooperative sugar mills have opposed any further duty-free raw sugar imports or extension of the time limit for import of the already allowed five lakh tonnes (lt) quantity beyond June 30.
“The country’s production in the 2016-17 sugar season (October-September) will be 200 lt. Adding opening stocks of 77 lt and imports of five lt takes the total availability of sugar to 282 lt. After deducting estimated consumption of 240 lt, we will start the next season with stocks of 42 lt, which is comfortable enough”, said Prakash Naiknavare, managing director, National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Ltd.
The Centre had, on April 5, permitted duty-free import of up to five lt of raw sugar, which ordinarily attracts 40 per cent basic customs duty. This sugar is to be imported only by mills or refineries having the facility, including fuel, to process raws during the off-season, when cane is not available. Moreover, the imports have to take place before June 30 in order to be eligible for zero duty.
“The deadline for import was initially June 12, which has been extended to June 30. There should neither be further extension of the time limit nor any more duty-free imports. The ex-factory price of sugar processed from imported raws will be only Rs 32 per kg, which is below the Rs 36 or so now being realised by Indian mills”, Naiknavare noted.
Allowing further imports will make it difficult for mills to pay the Rs 255 per quintal ‘fair and remunerative price’ for cane (linked to 9.5 per cent basic sugar recovery) recommended by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices in the 2017-18 season.