PSMA expresses concern over statements against sugar industry

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Spokesperson of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) Monday expressed concern over the statements made in Parliament against the sugar industry saying that report was based on incomplete, skewed, and erroneous data.

In a statement issued here, the PSMA spokesperson said that correct facts were obviously overlooked statements.

He said that neither PSMA nor the mills fix/determine the price of sugar, as there is free market mechanism in place adding that the price of sugar is determined by market forces based on supply and demand, which is the norm for almost all commodities sectors.

He said that while on the other hand, the minimum support price of sugarcane (which accounts for approximately 80% of the cost of production) and taxes are fixed by the Provincial Government(s) and Federal Government respectively.

The Spokesperson reiterated that sales tax on sugar in Pakistan is one of the highest in the world.

He said that the sugar industry is one of the major taxpayers of Pakistan and contributes Rs.50-60 Billion annually in Sales Tax and Rs.10 Billion in Income Tax annually.

He maintained that all subsidies were duly received by the sugar mills in compliance with applicable Government policies and applicable laws and no negative inference can be made in this respect.

The spokesperson said that Accusations of exploitation of farmers by mills are baseless and not substantiated by the record. The mills annually inject Rs 350 Billion plus into the rural economy in the shape of sugarcane payments to the farmers, which plays a positive role in the livelihood of the farmers.

He asserted that the manufacturing of sugar is one of the most highly regulated and monitored businesses in Pakistan, starting from the purchase of sugar cane all the way to sale of sugar adding that there is no possibility of any off-the-books sugar production or double-accounting and that too on the scale being suggested.

He said that as far as export of sugar to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics is concerned it was monitored & verified at multiple levels of different Government Institutions and Agencies. It is preposterous to now cast doubt on the authenticity of these exports.

He hinted that government Institutions like FBR, SECP, CCP, Cane Commissioners etc. are highly respected with professional and competent staff saying to suggest that their employees are on the payroll of sugar mills is highly disrespectful to both these institutions and the sugar mills.

He said that the price of sugar cane rises above the support price on account of increased competition between sugar mills, as happened in 2019-20.

He said that today, the sugar industry has allowed the country to become self-sufficient in sugar which would otherwise be a USD 2.0 Billion import adding that the sugar industry has allowed for the development of a free market ethanol industry which exports USD 300 Million of Ethanol and competes with global leaders like Brazil.

He said that the media trial of the sugar industry and its members, that too by the highest echelons of the Government, is highly regrettable adding that in this manner sugar mills are being denied due process and fair trial, which is their constitutional right.

He asserted that damage to their business and goodwill and loss of reputation of many reputable leading business houses that are in the sugar industry is also unacceptable.

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