NCP chief Sharad Pawar has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking bail out for the sugar industry from the crisis “aggravated exponentially” by the unprecedented lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Pawar noted that Modi — even before the lockdown came into force in March-end — had taken some “important” policy initiatives like MSP, export of sugar, buffer stock and interest subvention on capex for ethanol production duly supported by financial measures, seeing the key industry was faced with a crisis.
In his letter, sent on Thursday, Pawar sought the prime minister’s “urgent intervention” to bail the industry out from the crisis now aggravated by the lockdown.
“Raised concerns through letter to Hon. @PMOIndia and requested his urgent intervention to bail out #sugar industry from crisis aggravated exponentially by unprecedented nationwide lockdown in the wake of pandemic #COVID?19,” Pawar tweeted.
He also shared a copy of the letter on the micro- blogging site.
The former Union agriculture minister also enclosed a letter from the chairman of Maharashtra State Co-operative Sugar Factories Federation Ltd while raising the concerns related to the sector.
“As #COVID-19 crisis is worsening day by day, some immediate relief measures are suggested by the federation,” Pawar said.
The federation has suggested making provision of funds for clearing export incentives and buffer stock expenses pending since 2018-19 and 2019-20.
It has called for increasing the MSP of sugar ranging from Rs 3450 to Rs 3750 with grade wise increment. The federation has demanded making provision of one-time grant of Rs 650 per tonne on average cane crushed during the last two years.
It also insisted on converting outstanding working capital into short-term loan and rescheduling all term loans for 10 years with a moratorium of two years on the lines of the Mitra Committee recommendations.
The federation has pitched for treating sugar mills’ distilleries as strategic business units (SBUs).
On a standalone basis, banks should finance ethanol projects sanctioned under the interest subvention capex scheme announced by the Centre in 2018, it said.
“Hoping that the honourable @PMOIndia would look into the matter and initiate necessary relief measures to resolve the crisis worsened due to Pandemic #COVID?19,” Pawar said.