Thursday, July 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Open sale of wheat in Punjab
Centre clears 50 lakh tonnes
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, July 12 — Faced with the problem of increasing stocks, the Centre today announced open sale of 50 lakh tonnes of wheat in Punjab with immediate effect.

The Union Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, told a news conference that the issue price for the open sale would be at Rs 700 per quintal for this month, Rs 750 per quintal during August and Rs 800 per quintal in September.

“The open sale of wheat would initially be confined to Punjab because it was necessary to create adequate storage space for the kharif marketing season starting in October,” Mr Shanta Kumar said. He said of the 274.32 lakh tonnes of wheat stock in the country, Punjab had 112.76 million tonnes.

The minister clarified that the earlier decision of the Centre to auction the wheat did not find favour as it would have meant loss of time in process like tender system and finding the right price.

“The process would be cumbersome and in order to find a quick and transparent solution open sale of wheat was decided” he said.

He said while the economic cost of wheat in the country was Rs 900 per quintal, in Punjab it worked out at Rs 838 per qunital. Setting off the carrying costs of buffer stocks was Rs 183 per quintal and after adjusting the savings in carrying cost against economic cost, the issue price was worked out.

Mr Shanta Kumar expressed confidence that the Centre would be able to off-load 50 lakh tonnes and said that between December, 1998 and March, 1999, 5.28 lakh tonnes were sold in open market while between April, 1999 to March, 2000 it was 44.26 lakh tonnes.

He said the Centre and the Cabinet Committee on Prices considered several prices in order to liquidate the surplus stock of wheat in the central pool where it was suggested that the issue price be fixed in consultation with the Finance Ministry.

Turning to sugar, Mr Shanta Kumar said the current year production was expected to touch 180 lakh tonnes and after adding 64.73 lakh tonnes, the total stock would go up to 247.23 lakh tonnes. After taking out domestic consumption of around 150 lakh tonnes, the rest would be made available for sale, including export.

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