Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif has reportedly constituted a four-member committee under the chairmanship of Commerce Minister, Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan to resolve issues facing the sugar industry, well informed sources in Commerce Ministry told Business Recorder.
The decision was taken at a recent meeting between the Prime Minister and representatives of sugar industry who had refused to start crushing season 2015 if federal government did not allow export of 0.5 million tons of sugar immediately and announce universal sugarcane prices across Pakistan, the sources added.
Secretary Industries and Production Arif Azim, Secretary Commerce, Shahzad Arbab and Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Serat Asghar will be members of the committee, which will suggest measures to bring sugar industry out of the current crisis.
Insiders claim that PSMA lodged a complaint against the Commerce Minister Engineer Khurram to the Prime Minister for his “non-cooperative” attitude with respect to sugar industry especially non- payment of three year rebate on sugar export. Most of the summaries on sugar export have been prepared in the Commerce Ministry on the instructions from Prime Minister”s office or Finance Ministry.
According to sources, Commerce Ministry is preparing another summary proposing export of 0.5 million tons sugar with export rebate ranging from Rs 10-15 kg which is expected to be submitted to the Economic Co-ordination Committee(ECC) of the Cabinet on Monday (today).
Sugar industry argues that it is facing serious financial crunch and nine sugar mills have been sealed by the Government of Punjab for non-payment to the sugarcane growers. Therefore there is an urgent need to export the surplus sugar of 1.1 million tons, so that sugar mills may start crushing earlier and pay to the sugarcane growers.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the provinces to announce sugarcane price of Rs 180/40 kg across Pakistan but it is yet to be notified by the provincial government.
Ministry of Industries and Production which deals with the subject of sugar, says that according to Sugar Factories Act, 1950, the issue of starting the crushing season by the sugar mills comes under the ambit of Provincial Cane Commissioner serving under the Provincial Agriculture Departments.
However, the Federal Government has constituted a Sugar Advisory Board (SAB) in the Ministry of Industries and Production. A meeting of the board was held on November 4, 2015. The issue of starting crushing season 2015-16 was also discussed in the meeting.
As regards crushing in 2013-14 and 2014-15 the Provincial Cane Commissioners reported that the crushing seasons of 2013-14 and 2014-15 started on time. Therefore, 99.94 per cent and 98.4 per cent payments have been made to the growers for the season 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively. The Cane Commissioner Punjab and KPK have reported that crushing will start by end of current month.
The Cane Commissioner Sind has reported that sugar industry belonging to Sindh has resorted to litigation against the provincial government on the issue of sugarcane price, indicating crushing in Sindh may start late in Sindh.
News source: Business Recorder
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