The central government on Thursday allowed import of three lakh tonnes of raw sugar at 25 per cent duty in the wake of low availability in the domestic market and the festive season ahead.
The Consumer Affairs Ministry said the import was allowed through southern ports under Open General License (Tariff Rate Quota) “to supplement the availability of sugar in southern India and to stabilise sugar price”.
It said the raw sugar imports will be allowed through ports at Tuticorin, Karaikal, Chennai, Mangalore, Kakinada, Gangavaram and Vishakapatanam for its conversion to white sugar.
“The import shall be open to millers or refiners who have their own capacity to convert raw sugar into refined or white,” the ministry said.
The government had in July hiked import duty on sugar from 40 per cent to 50 per cent to support the domestic industry as the international prices fell.
In April this year, import of five lakh tonnes of raw sugar was allowed in order to support domestic supply.
In season 2016-17 ending September, sugar production has come down to 202 lakh tonnes from 250 lakh tonnes previous year. As per the government figures, opening stock of 40 lakh tonnes is expected when new new sugar year starts in October.
Sources in the industry said sugarcane crushing in major sugarcane producing states will be started early this year, by the second week of October in Uttar Pradesh and by fourth week in Maharashtra and Karnataka.