ISLAMABAD: With sugar prices already up 42 per cent over last year, the influential sugar industry has started lobbying for major exports – at least one million tonnes – to “ensure payments to farmers”.

Informed sources said the sugar millers had already activated their political channels in the new government to secure permission for sugar exports and some procurements by the government for strategic reserves to ensure higher profitability notwithstanding the inflationary pressures in the country.

In a formal letter, the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) also asked Commerce Minister Jam Kamal to start the approval process for exporting at least one million tonnes in two equal instalments as the crop output was almost 1.5 million tonnes higher than the domestic needs.

It demanded that remaining 0.5m tonnes should be purchased by the government. This would ensure foreign exchange earnings of about $700m and timely payments to farmers, the sugar cartel wrote. It said the sugar industry was the second largest agro-based industry of Pakistan after textiles that generated direct and indirect business activity of Rs800 billion to Rs1 trillion annually in agriculture, transport, allied industries, wholesale and retail markets.

The letter said the sugar industry was paying around Rs125bn in direct and indirect taxes to the federal, provincial and local governments, providing direct employment to 1.5 million people and rendering $5bn worth of import substitution to the national economy.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2024

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