PM orders stern action against sugar hoarders

PSMA slams arrest of two mill owners, calls it ‘bad omen’


​ Our Correspondents October 16, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing Ashra-e-Rehmat-ul-Lil-Aalamin (PBUH) conference in Islamabad. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE:

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday directed the authorities concerned to take strict action against sugar hoarders and profiteers.

Chairing a review meeting on the selling price and hoarding of sugar, the premier also ordered ensuring the implementation of the track and trace system of mills to ascertain the production volume of the commodity.

“The government will take strict action against profiteers, who are enemies of the poor masses,” he remarked.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, PM's Adviser on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to PM Dr Shahbaz Gill and senior officers attended the meeting. Punjab Industries Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal and Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal participated through video link.

The Punjab chief secretary told the participants of the meeting that all district administrations had been directed to monitor the implementation of the fixed sugar sale price.

Moreover, the process of legislation against hoarders and profiteers was also in progress, he added.

He further said CCTV cameras had also been installed at sugar mills to examine the quantity of sugarcane and production.

Besides, data would also be obtained from sugar mills on a daily basis during the crushing season.

Read More: PSMA, 84 mills served show-cause notices

The Punjab government has already launched a crackdown on sugar mills committing violation of law. The provincial police have registered cases against the owners and management of three mills - Chanar Sugar Mills Faisalabad, Shakar Ganj Sugar Mills Jhang and Pasrur Sugar Mills Gujranwala.

Chanar Sugar Mills owner Javed Kayani, Shakar Ganj Sugar Mills owner Pervez Ahmed and two general managers have been arrested while police are conducting raids to nab the owner of Pasrur Sugar Mills.

The Punjab chief secretary said that violators of the law would be dealt with an iron hand. He added that strict action would be taken in case sugar was sold at a price higher than that fixed by the government.

“Nobody would be allowed to sell sugar higher than the ex-mill rate of Rs84.75 per kg and retail price of Rs89.75 per kg,” he added.

Separately, the officials of the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) said arresting some executives of sugar mills by government authorities was not a “good omen” for business in general and the upcoming investment in particular.

Addressing a news conference in Lahore, PSMA Chairman Zaka Ashraf, accompanied by the association’s Punjab Chapter Chairman Chaudhry Aslam, maintained that the sugar industry was in a crisis right now and not in a position to initiate the crushing season as per the government’s announcement.

“How can we start crushing season in such an environment when the crop has not matured?” he asked.

“Starting crushing with such sugarcane means that the country is going to face sugar shortage in the coming months,” he warned.

The PSMA official said the country’s sugar industry had been suffering from “innumerable difficulties for a long time” and did not want any confrontation with the government as it wanted to work with it.

“There are 80 business groups in our sugar industry, all are industrialists and have nothing to do with politics.”

The PSMA official claimed that the association had time and again tried to contact the government high-ups for the resolution of their grievances but to no avail.

He added that this year, the price of sugarcane was fully paid and farmers were disbursed the payment at the rate of Rs375 per 40 kg despite the government’s fixing the price at Rs200 per 40 kg.

“In this way, the average cost per 40 kg stands at Rs270 which is still Rs75 more than the government’s fixed rate.”

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