Wednesday, February 9, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sugar import duty hiked

NEW DELHI, Feb 8 (PTI) — The government today decided to hike the import duty on sugar by 20 per cent to 60 per cent in the wake of good domestic production.

Announcing this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told reporters that the Cabinet had taken this decision to dissuade imports because of a projected record 160 lakh tonnes of sugar production during the current season.

The government had in early December 1999 raised the import duty to 40 per cent but the measure did not discourage imports as imported sugar was cheaper than the domestic sugar.

The Cabinet also decided to allow an additional one lakh tonnes of onion export in the wake of good production in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Mr Mahajan said.

The government had permitted exports of one lakh tonnes of onion in December to be carried out over a two-month period and fresh allocation would be in addition to the earlier permission and would be carried out by April.

Mr Mahajan said the decision to hike the export limit of onions to two lakh tonnes was taken as the prices of the vegetable for these growers had come down by between Rs 1.50 and Rs 3 a kilo.

He said though 63,000 tonnes of onion had already been exported, it was continuing to cause hardship to farmers. Therefore, it was decided to increase the export limit, the minister said.

He assured that the decision to hike export limit of onions to two lakh tonnes would not affect the domestic prices as there was enough of stocks.As regarding the decision to hike the import duty on sugar, Mr Mahajan said this was expected to make the domestic sugar prices less than the import price.

Of the total imports of 8.58 lakh tonnes during 1998-99, Pakistan accounted for 67.5 per cent of the total import, he said.

While Brazil’s share stood at 10 per cent of the total imports, France, Mexico, Thailand and the UAE accounted for 4 per cent each.

The import cost during 1998-99 worked out to Rs 1084.95 crore, he said.

Out of total imports of 28,000 tonnes during the first three weeks of January as gathered from various ports, including Amritsar Customs, bulk of it could be from Pakistan, he said.

The Cabinet, in all, took eight decisions, including the raising of the Haj quota to 72,000 pilgrims, ratifying of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 105 on the abolition of forced labour, an amendment to the Food Corporation of India Act for allowing auditing only by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), and for allowing Indraprastha University to provide affiliation to colleges in any part of the country.

The government also decided to amend the Insecticide Act 1958 to prevent danger to the lives of humans and animals.

It also decided to reintroduce the Bill on the devolution of central taxes to states which lapsed due to the dissolution of the 12th Lok Sabha.


No to panel suggestion

NEW DELHI, Jan 8 (UNI) — The Centre today rejected the Tenth Finance Commission’s recommendation of distribution of central taxes in the ratio of 29 per cent on gross basis but made it clear that states would be compensated fully, in the event of any loss incurred under the alternative scheme of devolution.

Briefing reporters, after the Cabinet meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan said the Centre had decided to devolve the funds on net basis as there was no provision in the Constitution on the proposed gross basis.

Accordingly, the 85th Constitution Bill (which could not be passed by the 12th Lok Sabha) would be amended and re-introduced in the Budget session, Mr Mahajan said.

The Cabinet has proposed certain modifications in the Bill including the deletion of Clause IV.

Mr Mahajan pointed out that the modification would lead to a revenue loss of Rs 2,000 crore to states in taxes against that projected by the earlier Central government.

The Constitution Bill seeks to assign 29 per cent of the net proceeds of almost all central taxes (excluding stamp duty, excise duty on medicinal/toilet items, central sales tax, consignment tax and surcharge) to the states in lieu of their existing share in income tax and basic/special excise duties, additional excise duties in lieu of sales tax on tobacco, cotton and sugar and grants in lieu of tax on railway passenger fares.

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