Senate body raises concerns about decision-making process for sugar exports

ISLAMABAD-The Senate Standing committee on Industries and Production has raised concerns about the decision-making process for sugar exports, emphasising the need for a robust system to assess projected sugar demand.
The meeting commenced with discussions on the availability and pricing of sugar within the country. Senator Zeeshan Khanzada raised concerns about the decision-making process for sugar exports. He noted that we often find ourselves exporting sugar and subsequently importing it when shortages arise. The secretary of the ministry explained that the Sugar Advisory Board has recently been placed under the ministry’s purview, and a detailed presentation regarding this matter will be provided to the committee. Other on the agenda was the starred question asked by Senator Syed Waqar Mehdi concerning the current list of nonfunctional state-owned enterprises in the country. The CEO of the Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) gave a comprehensive presentation, revealing that there are currently eight nonfunctional state-owned enterprises, most of which are in a state of stagnation and awaiting either liquidation or privatization. Some of these enterprises face delays due to pending litigation in the courts. The committee’s chairperson directed ministry officials to assess all pending litigations and engage with the appropriate authorities to expedite dispute resolution. The CFO of Pakistan Steel Mills provided a detailed breakdown of operational expenditures, explaining that operations at the Steel Mill ceased in 2015, with no production occurring since then. Senator Waqar Mehdi pointed out the absence of a CEO and Board of Directors for Pakistan Steel Mills at present. The Secretary of the Ministry informed the committee that the government intends to revive Pakistan Steel Mills and will share a comprehensive plan on this matter.
The committee also discussed another starred question from Senator Waqar Mehdi, related to the number of Utility Stores across the country, categorized by province and location. The Director-General of Utility Stores Corporation informed the committee that there are a total of 4,999 stores in the country, with 2,852 in Punjab, 1,189 in KP, 542 in Sindh, 252 in Balochistan, 84 in AJK, and 80 in Gilgit Baltistan. A detailed presentation was provided regarding the digitization of Utility Stores nationwide. Officials emphasized that all stores in the country have been digitized and integrated with the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP). This linkage with BISP enables the USC to implement targeted subsidies across the country, ensuring transparency and monitoring through a centralized system. This automation has resulted in savings of approximately 3 billion rupees. Committee members commended the efforts of the Utility Stores Corporation in digitizing the system. Senator Waqar Mehdi also raised concerns about reports of Utility Store products being sold in the market in one district of Sindh. Officials committed to providing a detailed report on the incident and the actions taken during the next committee meeting. The Committee meeting was attended by Senators Mohammad Abdul Qadir, Zeeshan Khanzada, Fida Muhammad, Faisal Saleem Rehman, Samina Mumtaz Zehri, Atta Ur Rehman, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, and Syed Waqar Mehdi, along with the CEO of PIDC, officials from USC, and the Secretary of the Ministry of Industries and Production.

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