As retail sugar prices inch close to Rs 50 per kg, Union food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Thursday that states have been empowered to take action against hoarding by imposing stock limits on traders.
State governments have powers to impose stock holding limits on sugar and other commodities under the Essential Commodities Act. Despite the power, states wait for central orders.
Under pressure to control price rise, the Centre normally issues orders to ensure states take action against hoarding and control prices of essential commodities. A similar order on sugar was approved on Wednesday by the Cabinet.
“Sugar prices are rising despite sufficient supply of the sweetener in the country. To check hoarding and black marketing, we have already empowered state governments to impose stock limits on traders,” Paswan tweeted.
The Cabinet had on Wednesday approval a central order to allow states to impose stock limits on sugar, he said.
Asserting that there is sufficient sugar supply in the country this year, Paswan said its availability is expected to be 35 million tonnes in the 2015-16 season (October- September), as against the total requirement of 25 million tonnes and export of 2 million tonnes.
Sugar prices in retail markets have been rising since October 2015 due to estimates of lower production at 25.6 MT for the marketing year (October-September), as against 28.3MT in the previous year.
Prices crossed Rs 40 per kg in the beginning of this month as compared to about Rs 30 per kg in October last year. Presently, sugar costs Rs 45 per kg, according to government data.
Sugar prices were depressed during 2014-15 marketing year due to record production and a huge carry over stock that led to a sharp rise in cane arrears of about Rs 21,000 crore.
However, prices have been inching up on expectation of lower output and the government’s order to export 3.2 million tonnes in the ongoing 2015-16 marketing year (October-September).
Mills have exported only 1.3 million tonnes of sugar in this marketing year and are likely to ship 7,00,000 tonnes more by September.
Sugar production fell by 8% to 24.3 MT till April 15 of this marketing year.