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LAHORE: The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) rejected the claim by the cane commissioner that supply of sugarcane to sugar mills is smooth, and claimed that at least 14 sugar mills in the province have been closed because of non-availability of sugarcane.

The PSMA said as far as the price of sugarcane is concerned, the sugar mills had asked about the daily rates of the crop which has crossed Rs300. On the other hand, the cane commissioner is talking about the rate which is only deduced at the end of the season. If the cane commissioner wants to maintain stability in the prices of sugar then he should ensure availability of sugarcane to the mills on the government fixed rate of Rs225, the PSMA spokesman in a statement issued on Friday.

The cane commissioner also said that the cost of production of sugar does not match with the price of sugar. On the contrary, the price of sugar does not contain the price of the crop only but it also includes government taxes, fuel needed to run the mills, road cess and many other factors. These issues increase the cost of production of sugar and the basic reason behind it is the non-availability of sugarcane on reasonable prices.

According to the cane commissioner, five kilogrammes of sugar is made out of 40kg of sugarcane which makes it to at least 12.5 percent of the cost of production of sugar, which is not a single sugar mill of Punjab has received so far. During the current year, no sugar mill has recorded even the 10 percent of recovery as the average recovery stands at 8.3 to 8.8 percent.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has installed its track and trace system in every sugar mill. Under this system, every sack of sugar is being tagged which can be tracked until it reached the retail point besides monitoring by the staff. The track and trace system negates the claims made by the cane commissioner.

The PSMA spokesman said that the cane commissioner should talk while keeping the ground facts intact rather on the basis of his government sources. On one hand, middle-men cannot be eliminated despite government assurances and on the other hand the sugar mills are facing the paucity of sugarcane.

This situation only increases the cost of production of sugar. The cane commissioner should play his role in eliminating the middle-men of sugarcane rather favouring them.

He added that the government brings the imported sugar to the country rather giving relief to the farmers and sugar mills, which not only burdens the national economy but also increases inflation, hence bringing crisis.

As per law, every sugar mill provides necessary reports to the government departments on time, including the cane commissioner and no sugar mill lags behind in doing this. As far as the stay-orders are concerned, the courts fulfil their necessary justice requirements and work according to law. The statement by the cane commissioner on the court decisions is tantamount to coming under the ambit of contempt of court, and the sugar mills leave this matter on the courts.

The spokesman went on to say that the cane commissioner has failed to eliminate the middle-men and ensure availability of sugarcane to the mills on government-fixed rates and still he is threatening the sugar mills. We demand the federal and provincial government take note of the threats given by the cane commissioner and order him to put focus on his work which primarily includes availability of sugarcane to the mills on government-fixed rates. If the middle-men become eliminated then the crop will be available on reasonable rates, which ultimately brings stability to the prices of sugar.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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