MABAD - The government has rejected the sugar industry's demand to lift ban on the import of raw sugar, considering it a conspiracy to exploit the farmers.
The matter was raised in the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) meeting the other day but the Prime Minister personally opposed the industrialists' request and decided to retain the imposed ban, sources told TheNation.
Sources also said that Minister for Industries, Manzoor Watoo was not against importing raw sugar and earlier in a press conference as well, he had said that the government could allow raw sugar import but the Prime Minister personally took the decision not to lift the ban imposed on the import of the product.
Federal Agriculture Minister, Nazar Mohammad Gondal has said that the ban would remain imposed as its lifting was against the interests of the local sugarcane growers adding that presently there was no sugar shortage in the country and as such the import of raw sugar was not needed.
An official of the Ministry said that the import of raw material would harm the local producers as the rate of their crop may come down and the millers could again exploit the farmers like last year.
Sugar millers had demanded of the government to remove the ban from the import of raw sugar, taking the plea that there was lesser production of sugar cane this year in the country and that was not sufficient to meet the sugar demand of masses for the whole year.
The sugarcane growers, learning from the previous experience of getting exploited by the sugar millers, had cultivated the crop on decreased area as compared to the previous year. Consequently, there was lesser production of sugarcane in the country.
In the past, the sugar millers used to retain farmers payments with them for a very long time thus compelling them to sell their crop to them. This year, due to lesser production of sugarcane, the situation has reversed, forcing the millers to bow in front of growers. Now the millers are forced to offer better price of growers produce and also are forced to make cash or urgent payments to them, said the market sources. The industrialists mafia is not used to this type of situation, so to change it in their favour, they demanded from the government to allow them to import raw sugar, so that they could be able to exploit the farmers again, an official said while talking to TheNation.
Official sources while talking to TheNation said that provided there was an increased demand of sugar that could not be fulfilled from the local sources, the government would prefer to import refined sugar than allowing the import of raw sugar.
Minister Gondal has also said that the government would not make any policy that could bring harm to the local growers.