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ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has directed Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production (MoI&P) and Secretary Ministry of National Food Security & Research (NFS&R) to devise a mechanism to subsidize only 30 per cent sugar being consumed by the general public, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

Secretary Industries and Production, Jawwad Rafique Malik and Additional Secretary In charge (NFS&R), Tahir Khurshid experienced bitterness during their posting at top positions in Punjab.

Malik as Chief Secretary surrendered to Tahir Khurshid due to serious differences. Khurshid is Additional Secretary In charge NFS&R as the Secretary Ghufran Memon is on two months' leave.

On September 28, 2021, during discussion in the Federal Cabinet, a member pointed to the loss to national exchequer caused by the import of sugar at a higher price due to delay. He demanded that responsibility must be fixed.

Minister for Finance & Revenue/Chairman ECC stated that an inquiry was being conducted and those responsible for indecision and procrastinating would be proceeded against.

Wheat, sugar, ghee, pulses: Targeted cash subsidy rolled out

He further noted that the differential between the cost of imported sugar and the price Rs89.75 fixed by the provinces would be picked up by the federal government. It was pointed out that 70 per cent of the national consumption was by the beverage, biscuits, candy etc. industry and only 30 per cent was being used by the general public.

It was suggested that Secretaries Industries & Production and Food Security & Research should jointly develop a mechanism to subsidize only the 30 per cent sugar being consumed by the public and present it to the Minister for Finance & Revenue.

The sources said relevant Divisions briefed the Cabinet that sufficient stocks of sugar and wheat were available in the country and there may not be any need for further imports.

Minister for Finance & Revenue argued that although the stock position was satisfactory, but it would be prudent to have strategic reserves in case of any eventuality.

In another meeting, Finance Minister observed that various proposals were submitted to ECC frequently seeking its approval on acceptance/scrapping of tenders floated by TCP for import of wheat and sugar on very short notice.

Wheat, sugar being sold at subsidized rate: Zartaj Gull

It was observed during the meeting that it was difficult for the ECC to decide and convey approval within a short time as meetings of the ECC are pre-scheduled and the time constraints in such matters was an important factor. Therefore, it was desired that a sub-committee of the ECC may be constituted in order to allow such operational matters in view of the time constraints.

After detailed discussion, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet constituted a committee under the Chairmanship of Minister for National Food Security and Research comprising Secretary Ministry of Industries & Production, Secretary Ministry of Commerce and Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Secretariat support to the Committee shall be provided by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for wheat and the Ministry of Industries and Production for sugar.

The meeting authorised the committee to consider and decide all matters regarding acceptance/scrapping the tenders floated by TCP in respect of import of wheat and sugar. The decisions of the committee would be submitted to the ECC for subsequent confirmation and ratification by the Federal Cabinet as per laid down procedure.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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