Centre nudges states for Rs 20k-cr cane dues clearance
New Delhi: Worried about huge cane arrear of Rs 20,000 crore to farmers, the Centre today asked sugar-producing states, including Uttar Pradesh, to take all possible measures to facilitate payment of dues.
Addressing the media, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan assured states that their demand, including hike in import duty and creation of buffer stock, would be discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“All possible efforts must be made to facilitate payment of the arrears by the state governments,” Paswan said, adding that the Centre has already taken a number of initiatives to help the industry.
The minister further said, “Clearing pending cane dues is the responsibility of millers and not the responsibility of the Centre and state governments. The state governments have all powers to take action against mills who have failed to clear cane dues to farmers.”
Sugar mills are finding it difficult to pay farmers as they have been incurring losses for the last few years due to low realisation and high production costs.
Paswan said the set of demands by states includes increase in import duty on sugar to 40 per cent from 25 per cent, creation of buffer stock, restructuring of interest-free bank loans and extending export subsidy on white sugar.
“The government will take up this suggestion with ministries concerned and take a final view in the interest of farmers and industries both,” he added.
The states made their demand at a consultation meeting called by the Union Food Minister in view of mounting cane arrear to growers, who find themselves at the receiving end in the wake of crop damage due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm.
Union Ministers Radha Mohan Singh, Maneka Gandhi and Sanjeev Balyan were also present in the day-long meeting.
Asked if the government will take steps to increase sugar prices to help improve liquidity of millers, Paswan said, “No government wants to take such measures because consumers will be affected. We need to find solution that is in the interest of farmers, consumers and millers.”