New Delhi, May 15 (PTI): In a turf war to control sugar exports, the commerce ministry today fixed a quota of 10,000 tonnes per trader, reversing the decision of the food ministry, which allowed unrestricted shipments of the sweetener.
An upset agriculture minister Sharad Pawar met and raised the issue with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Besides fixing the quota for the traders, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) in the commerce ministry made it mandatory for exporters to get registration certification, contrary to the order of the food ministry, which said no permission was required for overseas shipments.
On its part, the food ministry issued a notification yesterday, removing all restrictions on sugar exports, "within 48 hours of receiving minutes of the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue on May 2", a highly placed official said.
However, the DGFT was quick enough to undo the food ministry's decision to remove all export restrictions.
Besides Pawar and Mukherjee, commerce minister Anand Sharma, food minister K.V. Thomas were among those in the meeting chaired by the Prime Minister. It was decided in the meeting to do away with the export curbs on sugar so that farmers' cane arrears could be paid by the mills.
"Both the food ministry and the DGFT have issued separate notifications. There is some confusion. This will be sorted out...The DGFT will issue clarification shortly," Pawar said before meeting the finance minister. This is the second occasion in the last two months that Pawar is at loggerheads with the commerce ministry on export restrictions on agri products.