FoodMin Wants Sugar Subsidy to Continue
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.