Administered Pricing Mechanism (APM)
47. As Hon’ble Members are aware, Government had, in November 1997, notified the details of dismantling of the Administered Pricing Mechanism (APM) in the petroleum sector by March 2002. I propose to adhere to this deadline. A time bound action programme is being prepared for the deregulation of APM by March, 2002. My colleague the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas will be outlining the road map for this separately.
48. Hon’ble Members will recall that I have in the past referred to the rationalisation of fertilizer pricing with the objective of phasing out the existing retention price scheme (RPS) in the medium-term. Government has now decided to implement the recommendations of the Expenditure Reforms Commission for a phased programme of complete decontrol of urea by April 1, 2006. The following steps would be taken in the first phase commencing from April 1, 2001:
l The unit specific RPS will be replaced by a Group Concession Scheme. The current MRP arrangement will be continued and the concession for each group calibrated to enable the units to sell urea at the stipulated MRP.
l The rate of concession for urea units based on naphtha/FO/LSHS will be linked to international prices of these feed stocks.
49. Government is committed to complete decontrol of sugar. But this must be irreversible. Government has decided to introduce futures/forward trading in sugar within the coming year, a step that is necessary before full decontrol. Sugar under the Public Distribution System will continue to be supplied to ration cardholders in the special category states, hill states, island territories and to BPL families in other states and UTs. Such supplies can even continue after sugar is completely decontrolled. The retail issue price of sugar under the PDS is being revised to Rs 13.25 per kg. with effect from March 1, 2001.
Drug Price Control
50. The domestic drugs and pharmaceutical industry needs support in order to meet the challenges and to avail of the opportunities arising out of liberalisation of our economy and the impending advent of the product patent regime. Government has been considering measures to lessen the rigours of the present price control mechanism where they have become counter productive. Towards this end, we have decided that the span of price control will be reduced substantially. However, keeping in view the interest of the weaker sections of society, Government will retain the power to intervene comprehensively in cases where prices behave abnormally. Changes in the Pharmaceutical Policy are being made accordingly.