LS passes Sugar Development Fund Act

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New Delhi, Mar 17 (UNI) The Lok Sabha today passed the Sugar Development Fund Act, 1982 and the Sugar Cess Act, after Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told the House that the move would go a long way in mitigating the sufferings of the country's sugarcane growers whose arrears had piled upto Rs 4000 crores.

Mr Pawar said the banks would be directed by the goverment to provide interest free loans to the sugar mills who were finding it difficult to clear the dues of the farmers.

Out of the 12 per cent interest rate of the banks, five per cent would be paid throught a provision in the Union Budget and the rest seven per cent through the Sugar Development Fund.

''Besides there has been glut of sugar in the market with a surplus of at least 100 lakh tonnes as a result of which the supply is more than the demand,'' Mr Pawar said.

He said the process to provide interest free loans to the sugarcane mills had started with the enactment of this bill.

Winding up the more than three-hour-long discussion on the bill, Mr Pawar assured the House that the funds would be given to only those sugar mills which had crushed th sugarcame last year and not to others.

To ensure that the this money reached the farmers for clearing their dues only, the sugar mills would be given the second installment only after receiving a certificate from them that they had given the fist installment to the farmers, he said.

The bill was then passed by the house by voice vote.

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