India to extend tax-free white sugar imports

India to extend tax-free white sugar imports

New Delhi: India will extend permission for tax-free imports of white sugar beyond November, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said on Thursday, a move which should help cover a domestic shortage and help contain rising prices.

“We will extend it. This could be extended to May-June," Pawar told reporters when asked whether imports of whites free of import tax would be allowed beyond November, when the concession is due to expire.

He said local sugar prices were expected to soften from the end of October.

Sugar prices in India, the world’s top producer behind Brazil, have surged about 55% in 2009 due to a fall of more than 40% in domestic output to about 15 million tonnes.

Pawar said the extended monsoon season would boost sowing prospects for winter-sown crops such as wheat by improving soil moistures. The winter sowing season starts next month.

He said a lower area for summer-sown rice would lead to higher area for wheat, the main winter-sown food crop.