Paddy procurement in KMS 08-09 up 13 % :Ministry

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New Delhi, Nov 7 (UNI) About 129.83 lakh tonnes of paddy has been procured in KMS 2008-09 against 115.01 lakh tonnes during the corresponding period in KMS 2007-08, representing a 13.28 per cent rise over the previous year.

As on September 30, the rice procurement during KMS 2007-08 totalled 284.29 lakh tonnes against the overall procurement of 251.07 lakh tonnes in KMS 2006-2007. KMS 2008-09 has since commenced from October 1 last.

According to a release of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, wheat stock as on April 1, 2009 was estimated at 81.35 lakh tonnes, double that of the buffer norms of 40 lakh tonnes. Similarly, the rice stock stood at 64.13 lakh tonnes as on October 1, against the buffer norm of 52 lakh tonnes.

During 2007-08, with a view to contain the rise in price of rice in the domestic market and increase availability of rice in country, export of non-basmati rice had been banned. Thus, against 31.44 lakh tonnes and 5.66 lakh tonnes of non-basmati and basmati rice respectively, exported in 2007-08, only 6.87 lakh tonnes and 5.44 lakh tonnes of non-basmati and basmati rice were exported in the corresponding period in 2008-09 (upto October 21).

As part of steps taken by the Government to control rise in sugar prices, the Centre decided to make available 52 lakh tonnes of non-levy (free-sale) sugar for October-December 2008 against 42 lakh tonnes made available during October-December 2007) of the last sugar season.

The Government had earlier decided to allow sugar factories to sell remaining 75 per cent of dismantled second buffer stock of 30 lakh tonnes at any point of time during 2008-09 sugar seasons commencing from October 1 without the requirement of release orders from the Directorate of sugar.

Although, the move had given a great freedom to sugar factories to sell dismantled buffer stock but due to uncertainty about the availability of sugar in a particular quarter, it was decided that sugar factories should sell, quarter-wise, a fixed percentage of the remaining dismantled second buffer stock.

Accordingly, sugar factories were directed to sell the remaining 75 per cent of sugar during 2008-09 sugar season in the domestic market without requirement of release orders from the Directorate of sugar.

The Centre has also decided that unsold/undespatched stocks out of normal quota during a month and 30 per cent of the remaining 75 per cent of dismantled second buffer stock (six lakh tonnes) which is required to be sold/dispatched by the end of the October-December 2008, shall be converted into levy sugar.

Besides, penal action may also be taken against the defaulting sugar factories under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, if they fail to sell dismantled buffer stock as earmarked for the quarter.

In a letter dated October 16, Chief Commissioners/Commissioners of Central Excise have been asked to furnish reports regarding quantity of sugar sold/dispatched against monthly non-levy sugar quota for September 2008, and against total dismantled first buffer stock and 25 per cent of the dismantled second buffer stock which were required to be sold by October 15 (as per extension allowed) and by September 30 respectively, after verifying the records of the sugar factories so that the lapsed non-levy sugar quantity could be converted into levy sugar.

During the week ending October 31, the ex-mill prices of S-30 grade sugar have declined by Rs five to Rs 20 a quintal in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab. However, in Maharashtra, Gujrat and Karnatka, ex-mill prices have increased between Rs five and Rs 60 a quintal last week.

During the week ending October 31, the retail prices of sugar were at the same level as that of previous week. The retail prices of sugar in the four metro cities were in the range of Rs 19.50 a kg to Rs 21 a kg.

Meanwhile, under the scheme for distribution of subsidised edible oils, upto 10 lakh tonnes was to be distributed during 2008-2009 through state governments/UTs. So far, orders have been placed for import of 3.60 lakh tonnes of edible oils, of which, 2.99 lakh tonnes of edible oil has been shipped.

Till November 3, 2.87 lakh tonnes of edible oil has landed in the country and about 1.61 lakh tonnes distributed to the states /UTs by Central PSUs. After implementation of the scheme, edible oil prices have substantially declined and poorer section were offered edible oils at subsidised rates.

Distribution of subsidised imported edible oils has started in 12 states/UTs namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Sikkim, Nagaland and Rajasthan.

UNI SD AK VC2108

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