LAHORE: Sugar millers have claimed that the government has agreed to allow the market forces to fix price of the sweetener while it will intervene in the business at an appropriate time to keep the prices within a ‘reasonable’ range.
“The government will leave the sugar prices up to the market mechanism though it shall maintain strategic stocks and intervene in the market at an appropriate time to supplement the market and keep the prices at a reasonable level,” Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) chairman Zaka Ashraf claimed at a press conference here on Friday.
He said that in a recent meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan had held out the assurance that the government would promote free sugar business in the country. For this purpose, the premier formed a high-level committee under Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin with three federal ministers, federal secretaries and provincial chief secretaries as its members.
He said Mr Tarin also assured the PSMA that the prices of sugarcane as fixed by the governments of Punjab and Sindh would be accepted as national prices and the federal government would not set the rates of sugarcane or sugar. If surplus sugar was produced, the government would purchase that stock and later also allow the mills to export that surplus, Mr Ashraf claimed.
He said the finance adviser also assured the millers of his help in persuading banks for arranging working capital so that the mills could pay the cane growers on time, and in return stressed the millers to pay dues to the growers within 15 to 20 days of the start of crushing season.
The PSMA chairman said the government would also help solve the sugar industry’s problems related to the Competition Commission of Pakistan and Federal Board of Revenue on priority, while the federal and provincial secretaries were also directed to settle the matters related to arrests, registration of cases and raids on sugar mills.
Responding to a query, he said the mills would start the crushing season from Nov 15 in the larger national interest.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2021