PUNE: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief and former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the issues of the sugar industry.
In the letter, Pawar criticised some of the government’s decisions regarding the sugar sector and suggested policy changes in the way the government handles pricing. Pawar, who has vast experience of the cooperative sector which revolutionised sugar production and other agriculture-based industries, wrote the letter in the wake of the grave sugar crisis that is ailing sugar producers as they are suffering heavy losses.
The letter stated that the government data regarding the overall monetary situation of the sugar sector is incorrect. To highlight this, the letter referred to the figure of the relief package of Rs 8,500 crore, which is contradicted by the Press Information Bureau, which states the figure of Rs 7,000 crore. The letter stated that both figures are incorrect as the gross cost stands at Rs 4,047 crore.
In the letter, Pawar suggested an interest relief for ethanol producers. He said such relief might not help in solving the ongoing overproduction crisis, but will avoid further crisis. He suggested ethanol should be priced at Rs 53 per litre. This, according to him, will incentivise the ethanol usage in the wake of skyrocketing crude oil prices. He also suggested taking off the 18 pc GST applied on ethanol.
Pawar said the average production cost in the country for sugar is Rs 34 to 36 per kg, which is why the government ceiling of pricing sugar at Rs 29 is not correct. He said the pricing of sugar must be kept flexible and should take into consideration factors like sugarcane in North India, which gives more sugar content due to fertile soil, whereas the one in southern parts has lower output.
Pawar, who has vast experience of the cooperative sector which revolutionised sugar production and other agriculture-based industries, wrote the letter in the wake of the sugar crisis that is ailing sugar producers as they are suffering losses.