LAHORE: The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) has rejected the ex-mill and retail price of sugar fixed by the Punjab government, offering it to pick the entire sugar stock from the mills at this price and offload it in the retail market subject to taking responsibility of paying salaries of staff and workers.

“We reject the rates fixed by the government. However, if the government want to implement this forcibly, it must take responsibility of paying the salaries of mills staff, 17 per cent sales tax levied on sale of sugar and other financial liabilities of the project from where it would pick the stock,” PSMA Punjab group leader Javed Kayani told journalists at a news conference on Saturday.

The PSMA leaders including Chaudhry Waheed and Ali Saleem said as per their calculations ex-mill price of sugar comes to Rs87.65 per kilogram at the government support sugarcane price of Rs200 per 40 kg. Nevertheless, they claimed that they bought sugarcane during the crushing season for Rs260-285 per 40 on average and end ex-mill sugar price at this rate comes to Rs108-109 per kilogram.

They said they always supported the government and continue to do so but some senior government functionary should engage with the association in negotiations to determine the price. They were of the view that the mills had bought sugarcane worth Rs375-380 billion during the last crushing season and average price cost to a mill was between Rs 260-285 per maund.

“The association wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary to ensure provision of sugarcane at the support price to bring down the cost of production,” Kyani said, adding that mills also faced the issue of lower recovery rate because of early start of crushing.

On the other hand, the city district administration has fixed the retail price of sugar as Rs85 per kg for issuing a notification in this regard.

“All price control magistrates are required to visit their respective areas to ensure strict implementation of the notification. Moreover if any shopkeeper is found overcharging, heavy fine shall be imposed on him,” DC Mudassir Riaz warned.

Meanwhile, the Punjab cane commissioner rejected the millers’ claim of on-average buying the sugarcane at Rs300 per maund and that the ex-mill sugar price of Rs80 per kg was far low.

“This claim of the millers is absolutely wrong and baseless, as they, according to their own reports they submitted to us, purchase sugarcane in the crushing season at (on average) rate of Rs259 per maund. Moreover, the millers have shown 9.3 per cent recovery (sucrose) in papers, while the actual [figure] is 10.41 per cent (on average) checked by the mobile labortries,” the cane commissioner explained.

He claimed the millers were earning 15pc profit on Rs80 per kg (wholesale) price.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2021

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