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Sugar from Pakistan: ‘Alarmed’ Congress and NCP want import duty hiked, export duty scrapped.

Date: 16-12-2017
Subject: Sugar from Pakistan: ‘Alarmed’ Congress and NCP want import duty hiked, export duty scrapped
The export of 15 lakh metric tonnes of sugar by Pakistan along with adequate subsidies has left the top leadership of Congress and NCP worried about the fate of Maharashtra’s sugar market. Leaders of the two Opposition parties met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Friday and urged the government to take some policy decisions to provide stability to the sugar sector.

They demanded an increase in the import duty and scrapping of export duty. They also said the government should make payment of fair and remunerative price mandatory as an ad hoc system was not practical, especially at a time when sugarcane crop was surplus and prices had steeply declined. Fadnavis has assured the Congress and the NCP of taking up the matter with the Centre, and initiate whatever measures necessary. “If Pakistan sugar comes to India, it will badly affect the domestic market. Kolkata was the biggest sugar market. But over the years Uttar Pradesh has also made inroads in Kolkata,” said senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar.

The top leaders’ concern over the sugar sector, however, has not gone down well with the elected members of the two parties representing Vidarbha. “The perseverance displayed by top leaders to make the sugar sector a common cause is good. But they never display the same unity or commitment when it comes to fighting for the rights of Vidarbha issues,” said a senior Congress leader who did not wish to be named. Another Congress leader said, “The Winter Session (of the state legislature) in Vidarbha is held once a year. And it lasts for just two weeks. Yet, if we look at the Opposition’s overall concern, very few Vidarbha issues are highlighted and taken to a logical end. As a result, the BJP walks away with advantage in successive elections in Vidarbha.”

Meanwhile, the alarm raised by sugar mill owners cutting across party lines over Pakistan sugar has been dismissed by a section in the BJP and the Shiv Sena. A Sena minister said, “It is not as if Pakistan sugar is coming to India for the first time. Moreover, sugarcane crop brings assured profit. And successive governments at the Centre have always given Sharad Pawar an audience every time he meets the Prime Minister to discuss problems related to the sugar sector.” However, NCP leader Dilip Walse-Patil argued, “When we raise issues related to sugar industry, it is for the larger welfare of the state and its farmers. It is the only cash crop that helps earn highest revenue to the government.”

Source: indianexpress.com

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