India to raise import duty on sugar to 40 per cent from 15 per cent …


The government today decided to provide additional interest-free loan of up to Rs 4,400 crore to sugar mills and hike import duty on sweetener to enable the cash-starved industry pay their huge arrears to sugarcane farmers.

Import duty on sugar will be increased to 40 per cent from 15 per cent and export subsidy will be extended till September this year to give relief to the sugar industry, which owes Rs 11,000 crore to cane growers largely from Uttar Pradesh.

Efforts will be made to implement mandatory 5 per cent ethanol blending with petrol and subsequently achieve 10 per cent blending.

These decisions were taken at a high-level meeting called by Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, following Prime Minister’s direction. Industry Body ISMA hailed the decision saying this will improve cash-flow of millers and help clear cane arrears.

Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, MSME Minister Kalraj Mishra, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Principal Secretary to the PM Nripendra Misra and Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth attended the meeting.

“We have taken four key decisions. We have decided to extend the interest-free loan given against excise duty paid by sugar mills for five years instead of three years,” Paswan told reporters after the meeting.

Mills can avail additional interest-free loans of up to Rs 4,400 crore from banks, he said, adding this will improve their cash flow to make cane payments.

However, the minister said the department is yet to calculate the exact interest-free loans to be provided to the industry against excise-duty.

In December, the Centre had approved Rs 6,600 crore interest-free loans for the sugar industry for clearing cane arrears. It decided to give loans via banks equivalent to the excise duty paid by the mills in the past three years.

These decisions will be subject to the mills giving guarantee that they will clear Rs 11,000 crore sugarcane arrears at the earliest, Paswan said.

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