FoodMin Wants Sugar Sub­sidy to Con­tinue

The Economic Times - - Finance & Commodities - Mad­hvi.Sally@ times­

New Delhi: The food min­istry has writ­ten to the fi­nance min­istry to con­tinue the sugar sub­sidy of .₹ 4,500 crore un­der the pub­lic dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem (PDS), which was scrapped in Union Bud­get 2017-18. “We have writ­ten a let­ter to the fi­nance min­istry and wait­ing for the re­sponse. We are hope­ful that the funds will be given in the sup­ple­men­tary grant,” said a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial. The Ex­pen­di­ture Man­age­ment Com­mis­sion, set up by the gov­ern­ment to sug­gest ways to ra­tio­nalise gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies, did not con­sider sugar sub­sidy es­sen­tial as per di­etary need re­quire­ment, the of­fi­cial said. Over 2.7 mil­lion tonnes of sugar was be­ing given an­nu­ally to 40 crore ben­e­fi­cia­ries be­low poverty line (BPL) at a sub­sidised rate of .₹ 13.50 a kg. In 2017-18 bud­get, the gov­ern­ment al­lo­cated .₹ 200 crore to clear pend­ing claims un­der the PDS sugar sub­sidy scheme, the of­fi­cial said. To make sugar avail­able through PDS at .₹ 13.50 per kg, state gov­ern­ments and union ter­ri­to­ries (UTs) are re­quired to pro­cure it from the open mar­ket. The Cen­tre then re­im­burses states and UTs at .₹ 18.50 per kg.

The min­istry is also wait­ing for the sec­ond ad­vance es­ti­mates of pro­duc­tion of crops for 2016-17 to be re­leased by the agri­cul­ture min­istry this month to re­view the sugar pro­duc­tion in the coun­try. It is also ex­pect­ing the state com­mis­sion­ers to sub­mit a re­port on sugar es­ti­mates af­ter re­view­ing the ground po­si­tion.

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