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ISLAMABAD: The caretaker government has decided to start crackdown on sugar mills involved in tax evasion, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

This warning was issued by the caretaker Minister for Commerce, Industries, Investment, Interior and Overseas Pakistanis, Gohar Ijaz while presiding over a meeting of Sugar Advisory Board (SAB).

The sugar industry commended the caretaker Minister for crackdown on sugar smuggling to neighbouring countries.

The meeting was informed that sugar production estimates are 6.5 million tons this year due to higher crop yields compared to 6.2 million tons at the start of the season.

According to source, the caretaker Minister clearly conveyed to the representatives of sugar industry that the government is launching a crackdown against the mills which are involved in tax evasion.

“Action will be taken against tax evaders in the sugar industry,” says an official statement issued by the Commerce Ministry citing the caretaker Minister.

The sources said, sugar industry proposed 1 million tons’ additional capacity during the season from importing raw sugar for export purposes which will give $ 100 per ton net margin or Rs 100 million through value addition.

However, the caretaker Minister argued that the proposal is not justifiable as it can cause severe distortion in prices since world market price is 50 percent higher than local market.

He added that the government cannot compromise public interest during these Inflationary times and there is no space for mistakes or adventure at this moment.

“One million tons’ buffer surplus is expected to be available even after 15 percent lower sugar cane area under cultivation this year due to extensive controls on our borders which has minimised smuggling of sugar since October,” sources said.

An official told this scribe that the view was that since crushing season is over and mills are shut there is no need to import raw sugar for export purposes. However, the meeting requested the sugar industry to submit their raw sugar import plan for consideration of government.

The Minister said supply of essential commodities to the people at low rates and safeguarding the interests of sugarcane farmers are among the priorities of the government.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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