LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday provisionally allowed the Punjab government to enforce the ex-mill price of sugar at Rs80 to meet the demand for the commodity during the upcoming month of Ramazan.
Before passing the order, Justice Shahid Jamil Khan gave two opportunities to the mills and the government to resolve the matter amicably. The mills agreed to sell sugar at Rs83 to the government, however the dialogue remained unfruitful.
Tandlianwala Sugar Mills and others had challenged the government’s decision to fix the ex-mill price for sugar at Rs80.
Opposing the petitions, a government law officer said there was 2.5 million tonnes of sugar in the stock of the mills whereas the demand during Ramazan would be around 155,000 tonnes.
The judge observed that there should be no shortage of sugar during the fasting month. He allowed the government to buy sugar from the mills at Rs80 to meet the demand in Ramazan. The judge deferred hearing of the petitions to a date to be fixed after Eidul Fitr.
Earlier, the judge had suspended the impugned notification of the ex-mill price. The counsel for the mills had argued that the government damaged the reputation of the petitioners by levelling false allegations of hoarding. They said the industries department deputed its officials in the mills to enforce the ex-mill price of sugar.
They argued that the government could not enforce its prices on the mills and asked the court to set aside the impugned notification about fixing the prices of the commodity.
Meanwhile, addressing a presser, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar said the government had fixed Rs80 as the ex-mill price and Rs85 retail price of sugar on the basis of data provided by the mills besides adding 15 per cent profit.
After the LHC decision on the fixation of sugar’s ex-mill and retail rate, Mr Akbar tweeted: “Big relief from LHC, wherein it has ordered for supply of sugar at Rs80 ex-mill as determined by the federal and provincial governments during Ramazan.”
He also tweeted that it was the first victory of PM Imran Khan’s government in protecting the ordinary people against profiteers.
Stating that an increase of Re1 in per kilogramme price of sugar meant Rs5.5 billion profit for sugar millers, Mr Akbar explained that the price of sugar had been increased from Rs30 to Rs40 per kg.
“The government has recovered Rs400 billion from the abnormal profiteers, while there were court stays on Rs60bn abnormal profit recovery,” he added.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2021