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ISLAMABAD: The Sugar Advisory Board (SAB) has been transferred back to the Ministry of Industries and Production following an increase in the prices of sugar.

Sources said that the unprecedented increase in sugar prices due to hoarding and speculative future trading was one of the major reasons for the transfer back of the SAB to the Ministry of Industries and Production from the Ministry of National Food, Security and Research.

It was suggested that robust monitoring is required following the increase in sugar prices. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the production, movement, distribution, transportation, supply, disposal, price and sale of this industrial product throughout the supply chain, according to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

The ministry in a proposal stated that the sugar industry requires robust monitoring and the Ministry of Industries and Production has established a computer application which tracks the fertilisers from factory gates to dealers and further to retailers and farmers. A similar system is essentially required for the sugar mills, whereas, no such monitoring system exists in MNFSR.

The Industries Ministry may frame a sugar policy for the country, which is non-existent at the moment, and may notify it with the approval of the federal government. In post 18th Amendment scenario, the federal government has to decide whether it still wants to fix the price at the federal level under the Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act, 1977.

In case, the federal government decides to devolve, then necessary changes are required to be made in the law and provinces have to enact their own legal instruments for price control and hoarding.

In June 2022 Ministry of Industries and Production moved a summary for the transfer of SAB to the MNFSR on the ground that: (i)the then federal minister of Industries and Production showed his inability to chair the SAB on the pretext of conflict of interest, as the minister himself owns sugar mills.

In view of one-year experience of handling SAB, MNFSR recommended that the Ministry of Industries and Production may frame a comprehensive sugar policy in consultation with all the stakeholders to address policy challenges, with the approval of the federal government. In view of these merits and facts requested that the SAB might be transferred back to its parent ministry.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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