NEW DELHI, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Indian sugar futures were caught in a range on Thursday with spot prices displaying flatness as the market awaits the government's decision on lifting curbs on the sugar sector.
* At 0830 GMT, the key April sugar contract on India's National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange traded almost flat at 3,209 rupees ($59.33) per 100 kg. The contract moved in the 3,192-3,210 rupees range during the session.
* "Any decision on the sugar sector decontrol will provide the much needed trigger," said Mukesh Kuvadia, secretary of the Bombay Sugar Merchants Association.
* India, the world's second biggest producer after Brazil, has been exploring options to free the sugar sector from various controls to avoid cycles of oversupply and shortage. * An advisory panel headed by economist C. Rangarajan last year recommended freeing the sugar sector from a host of government controls. * Spot sugar stabilised on Thursday after the impact of talks of an expected rise in production tax, as hinted by India's Farm Minister Sharad Pawar earlier in the week, receded. * "The market still waits for a decision on the production tax but it appears nothing is expected before the budget," Kuvadia said. * India's Finance Minister P. Chidambaram will present the federal budget for 2013/14 fiscal year starting April 1 later in the month. * Spot sugar remained flat at 3,218 rupees per 100 kg in the Kolhapur market in top-producing Maharashtra state. * India, the world's biggest sugar producer after Brazil, is unlikely to export the sweetener for up to three years as high production costs price shipments out of the global market and a drought in major growing regions squeezes output. * Global futures rose on Wednesday as short-covering lifted prices and outweighed expectations that hefty supplies from top producer Brazil would outstrip demand. * London white sugar rose 1.1 percent to close at $501.2 a tonne, while New York raw sugar rose 0.7 percent to close at 18.35 cents per lb. [$1 = 54.085 rupees] (Reporting by Ratnajyoti Dutta; Editing by Jijo Jacob)