‘Impose interest on delayed payment to clear cane arrears’

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New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) The Central government’s Rs 7,000 crore bailout package for sugar industry will hardly benefit farmers, said a farmers’ organisation, demanding imposition of 15 per cent interest on delayed payment of sugarcane dues by mills.

Briefing media here, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan (RKMS) Convener V.M. Singh said no sugarcane producing states had invoked the statutory penal clause of payment of interest at 15 per cent per annum for the delay in payment beyond 15 days.

“If it is put in force, there will not be any arrears. The government should issues revenue recovery certificates and should take strict measures,” he said.

Terming the bailout package was “an eyewash”, he said that the government had played with emotions of the farmers.

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“The package talks about boosting ethanol production infrastucture, which will help millers. It may be helpful for farmers but not now. May be five years later,” he said.

“We think, we need to resume our agitations. We need to hit the streets and move court.”

Singh also termed “useless” the government’s plan to give Rs 1,500 crore as incentive for export since the international prices are hovering over Rs 22-24 per kg as against the current (domestic) prices of Rs 28-32.

He also said the millers were never in losses as they misled the public and government by showing revenue from just sugar production segment.

“In the Allahabad High Court, millers had admitted that they were making profits but insisted that the mills were making losses from sugar segment. They were actually making profits from the by-products such as molasses, bagasse. They earn good revenue through ethanol production, distilleries, power co-generation,” he said.

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Singh said the millers never shared their income with farmers when they earned profit, asking:

“Then why should they seek the government’s assistance when in losses.”

He said the fall in sugar prices can never be the criteria for non-payment of the cane dues.

“When the sugar prices were high, did the mill owners make timely payments?”

The RKMS had challenged the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to waive interest payment of Rs 2,000 crore of mills, Singh said.

–IANS

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