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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Industries and Production Rana Tanveer has directed the officials to ensure the supply of sugar to meet local demand and the government will only allow the surplus amount of the commodity for exports after detailed deliberations with all the concerned quarters.

Senior Ministry officials told this correspondent here on Friday that the minister on the other day while chairing the meeting of the Sugar Advisory Board (SAB) said an increase in sugar prices directly impacts the common man and local demand for sugar should be given priority.

During the meeting, the representatives of the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) argued that Pakistan, at present, has around 1.6 million tons of additional sugar stock which should be exported.

The PSMA suggested the government allow phase-wise export of the additional commodity, requesting permission to export one million tons of sugar in the first phase which will bring around $ 650-700 million in foreign exchange for the country and the rest of the 0.6 million tons sugar be exported in two phases in May and June 2024.

This year local industry has produced over 6.57 million tons of refined sugar while the local demand including industrial and domestic stands at a little over five million tons, reflecting the country has over a million tons of refined sugar.

The meeting was informed that last year sugarcane price was Rs 350 per 40kg which now has reached Rs 450 per 40kg and the production cost of sugar at present stands at Rs 170 per kg while in the retail market, refined sugar was available in the range of Rs 145-150 per kg which is lowest price in the world.

The PSMA argued that if the government did not allow sugar export it would result in the smuggling of the commodity to Iran, Afghanistan, and other countries as a result, the country will be deprived of the precious foreign exchange while smugglers will take advantage of the situation.

According to PSMA, locally, the sugar production price was around $ 503 per ton while in the international market, it stands at $ 650 per ton, therefore, export permission will benefit both the industry and the country. The meeting was further informed that in Pakistan industrial use of sugar stands at 85 per cent and the rest 15 per cent was domestic use. Moreover, 18 percent general sales tax (GST) was imposed on sugar.

Meanwhile, in another meeting with the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Pakistan, Khazar Farhadov, who called on Rana Tanveer here on Friday, the minister said that Pakistan was keen on uplifting the industrial and agriculture sector of the country and the Azerbaijan investors can take full benefit of the friendly investment opportunities in Pakistan.

Federal Minister Tanveer said there are strong brotherly relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan, adding that Pakistan values its relations with Azerbaijan. He said an increase in investment in industry, production and agricultural development is the first priority of the current government, and invited Azerbaijan’s investors to tap the investment potential in Pakistan.

He said special focus is being laid on the vision and directions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in industries and agriculture sectors.

“Agriculture is considered as the backbone of Pakistan. We earn a lot of foreign exchange every year due to agriculture,” he said. Practical steps are being taken to increase exports of the agricultural sector to earn foreign exchange and ensure food security, he added.

The ambassador emphasised the need to work together in areas of mutual interest and said that there are vast investment opportunities in agriculture, industry, and production in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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