Center attacks “link” between Sindh government and sugar factories – Pakistan

• The Minister deplores the “conspiracy against the federal government” concerning the rise in prices
• PM orders action against mafia and hoarders under relevant laws

ISLAMABAD: With sugar prices soaring on the eve of the fresh sugar production season, the Center bluntly blamed a “link between the Sindh government and the sugar industry” based in that province on Monday for plotting against the federal government and pledged to “keep on fighting for a long time – Shooting war against the Mafia”.

The provincial government and the Sindh branch of the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) have “plotted a plot against the federal government”, but it affects the Pakistani people, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar told a conference press conference hastily convened shortly after the Prime Minister. Imran Khan chaired a meeting on price control.

Mr Azhar said he was instructed by the prime minister to give a briefing on sugar prices because his relevant colleague – Minister of Industry and Production Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar – and his family were involved in the sugar trade and he apologized.

He alleged that the Sindh sugar factories, which normally began crushing sugarcane on October 15, also started boilers this year, but the boilers were then turned off.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said the meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, was attended by Hammad Azhar, Minister of Industry Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister of Food Syed Fakhar Imam, Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Prime Minister’s Financial Advisor Shaukat Tarin, FBR Chairman, Prime Minister’s Home Advisor Shahzad Akbar and Special Assistant Shahbaz Gill. Chief secretaries and senior officers from Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa attended virtually.

“Why does every political family in the country have sugar mills? What is the attraction that although they fail in every other business, they enter the sugar industry and make huge profits? It is because of this link, ”Mr Azhar said, repeatedly accusing the alleged link to be at the root of most of the evils causing the rise in sugar prices.

He reiterated the government’s many-time promise to provide sugar to the people at Rs90 per kg, as reports suggested its price hovered between Rs140 and Rs160 in various parts of the country.

While the Prime Minister’s Office said Prime Minister Khan had ordered strict measures against “the mafia and sugar grabbers” to bring down prices, the Energy Minister said the ongoing war on cartels couldn’t be won in a month or a year, but promised that sugar prices would drop dramatically in two or three weeks.

He said the government would immediately market 100,000 tonnes of imported sugar and guarantee its selling price at Rs90 per kg, as well as 25,000 tonnes currently available in Utility Stores Corporation’s stocks, while another 30,000 tonnes of stock were now unloading at the port of Karachi.

When reminded that cabinet members including then-finance minister Shaukat Tarin and the prime minister’s special assistant Jamshed Cheema had promised in various forums since September 21 to immediately guarantee the price of sugar at Rs 89-90 per kilo nationwide, Mr Azhar said the government had ensured this price in utility stores.

He said that unlike other provinces, the Sindh government has not introduced a law on the advice of the federal government under which cases could be registered or a fine of 50,000 rupees per day imposed on the sugar factories. who did not respect the grinding of sugar. schedule given by the respective provincial governments.

The minister said that before this law, sugar mills were delaying the crushing of sugar cane to blackmail the government and farmers into demanding subsidies and getting incentives to export sugar at the expense of the state. He said the law guaranteed the payment of a fair return to sugarcane producers and cleared multi-year arrears in other provinces, but Sindh has neither introduced such a law nor taken any action to ensure that prices go up and he can criticize the Center.

Mr Azhar said the government of Punjab will ensure the operationalization of sugar factories in the southern Punjab on November 15 and other parts of the province on November 20 and that failure to operate the factories will result in the ‘entry into force of the law on land because “it is unacceptable to have a harvest bumper and its earliness, but the prices also keep increasing”.

He recalled that sugar prices also exceeded Rs 100-110 per kg last year when he was Minister of Industry, but fell to Rs 70 in November thanks to his proactive coordination with all stakeholders and the marketing of imported products. He said the Center had taken all possible measures, such as improving the law, increasing penalties, removing import duties and importing sugar itself and would not be subject to the blackmail by the mafias.

“There would be no more subsidies for the sugar trade and the sugar industry would have to operate on a supply and demand mechanism like any other industry,” he said, adding that the district administrations had also arrested a few players and recovered the hoarded sugar that was being sold. at Rs90 per kg.

According to the prime minister’s office, the prime minister ordered the sugar mafia and hoarders to be prosecuted under the Sugar Factories (Control) Law of 2021 amendment, Prevention of Sugar Act 2020. Punjab hoarding and Punjab godown registration law 2014 urgently to bring relief to people. The prime minister was told that sufficient stocks of sugar were available in the country, but the closure of factories in Sindh had caused prices to rise.

Posted in Dawn, le 9 November 2021

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