LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly has notified the ‘Sugar Factories (Control) (Amendment) Act 2021 repealing the two different amendment ordinances with a view to ensure timely payments to cane growers in a transparent manner.
Nevertheless, stakeholders have raised eye brows over the new act saying that occupiers of sugar factories shall clear the cane payments before 30th of June, following the crushing season instead of earlier compulsion of clearing the dues in 15 days time after the supply of sugarcane. They said that those who would supply sugarcane in November or December of any crushing season had to wait for payment till June 30 next. “It can also encourage the middlemen to exploit farmers who wanted to get their dues early for different reasons including preparation for next crop,” the stakeholders added.
Under the new Act, sugar factories owners have also been empowered to start crushing season not later than 30th November each year, while through a previous order the mandate has been given to the government to fix the crushing season date. The stakeholders said that it means that farmers will not be able to go for early sowing of wheat as its sowing season is early to mid November. They said that recent increase in wheat production is also an indirect impact of earlier issued orders in which the mills had to start crushing season before November.
Sources said that the new act had also eliminated the condition of paying to growers through bank account or determination of liabilities condition which made non-payment or delayed payment as a cognizable offence. “Now it is no more cognizable or non-bailable offence thus supporting those who exploit growers,” they added.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) terming the newly passed Sugar Factories (Control) (Amendment) Act 2021 as a mischievously passed law has announced to protest in front of the Punjab Assembly.
In a letter to the Prime Minister Imran Khan, PKI President Tariq Khokhar regretted that growers believed that PTI under Khan’s leadership will bring change for the masses but we were mistaken.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021