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ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Minister for Commerce, Industries and Investment, Gohar Ijaz is to hold a meeting with sugar industry next week to discuss prospects of import of raw sugar for refining and export purposes.

“I will hold a meeting with them again next week. A committee was set up and I told its members in their first meeting in November last year that $ 3 billion forex industry only operates for 4 months and produces only 6.5 million tons using less than Rs 2.5 billion produce from local sugar cane growers. They have to look at importing raw sugar to export refined sugar and operate their plants at capacity and raise exports,” he said, while talking to Business Recorder.

The PSMA in a letter to caretaker Commerce Minister appreciated his overall efforts to increase exports and his comments during the meeting held with the Association for import of raw sugar. This measure will ensure that GoP earns over $ 3 billion in exports of the sugar sector. Currently, exports of ethanol earn over $ 500 million per annum.

Sugar import: Cut in tax rates amongst reasons behind huge income tax exemptions cost

The PSMA noted that the sugar industry’s crushing season lasts for three months and remains closed for 9 months due to which fixed charges continuously increase the cost of sugar. Prior to the comments of caretaker Commerce Minister for the import of raw sugar, the industry was denied permission to import raw sugar for refining purposes to earn foreign exchange and ensure the continuation of employment which is currently only available during the crushing season.

The Association further claimed that sugar industry has total reliance on domestic value addition of sugarcane which ensures farmers are paid over Rs 600 billion (Rs 590 billion contributing towards the GDP) and over Rs 100 billion in taxes. Besides this, because of location, the sugar industry creates employment in rural areas.

Despite this, freedom of trade that is guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan is denied to us through the arbitrary measures to control the sugar prices that benefit 80 per cent of industrial consumers, and only 20 percent domestic consumers. The need is to provide sales tax free sugar from the Utility Stores to the under privileged, instead of regular crackdown on the sugar industry that distorts the market mechanism, argued Iskandar Khan, Vice Chairman PSMA Central/Chairman KPK Zone.

Copies of the letter have also been sent to caretaker Prime Minister, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, caretaker Finance Minister, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar and Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Malik Amjad Zubair Tiwana.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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