Sharad Pawar in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Jan. 11: The Centre today blamed the Uttar Pradesh government for high sugar prices but failed to specify a time frame by when the sweetener would become more affordable.
Uttar Pradesh has imposed a ban on the processing of imported sugar after farmers started protesting over high cane prices in November. Around 8 lakh tonnes of raw sugar are now lying at the ports.
Imported raw sugar is lying at the Kandla port for more than two months as the UP government is not allowing mills to process, said Sharad Pawar, Union minister for food and agriculture.
Sugar is being sold at Rs 45 per kg in retail markets in Delhi, more than double the price in January last year.
To ease the prices, the government is also considering extending the deadline for the import of white sugar to December.
Had they (millers) processed, an additional 2.5 lakh tonnes would have been made available per month and this would have brought down the prices, said Pawar.
He said he had written to the Uttar Pradesh government for lifting the ban.
We have not been able to convince them and will try to request at the highest level. We will resolve the problem at the CCP (Cabinet Committee on Prices), Pawar said.
The CCP is scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss the price spiral in food items, particularly sugar, which rose Rs 6 a kg to Rs 45 since the beginning of the year.
Food inflation stood at 18.22 per cent for the week ended December 26, 2009.
Prices of metals, the basic raw material for industry, also shot up over the last one-and-a-half months.
However, sugar prices fell Rs 100 per quintal in Delhi today after supply exceeded demand on reports that the government was likely to import fresh stocks. Increased arrivals from mills also helped in easing of prices.
On Friday, the government gave 15 more months to mills to meet their export obligations.