ISLAMABAD: Sugar mills will have to seek clearance certificates regarding outstanding arrears of growers from the cane commissioner prior to applying for export of sugar.
According to the Sugar Factories Control Act 1950, the cane commissioner has powers of a collector under the Punjab Land Revenue Act 1887 and the Punjab Tenancy Act 1887 or any other enactment relating to land revenue and tenancy in force in any part of the Province and he is supposed to exercise and perform, in addition to the powers and duties conferred and imposed on him by this law such powers and duties as may be prescribed from time to time.
“This binding has been imposed to safeguard interests of sugar cane growers in the aftermath of complaints about pending arrears of growers with the sugar mills,” a source in the Commerce Ministry said.
He added that the ministry took notice of the complaints regarding non-payment or pending arrears of sugarcane growers and then moved a proposal to the Finance Ministry for the production of said clearance certificate.
The source said that the Finance Ministry took the proposal seriously and sent it to the State Bank of Pakistan which included this clause in its policy guidelines for the export of sugar.
“The Government of Pakistan allowed sugar mills to export 500,000MT sugar as per the terms and conditions,” he said, adding that the SBP in the guidelines has made it mandatory for the sugar mills to enclose copies of the documents, including clearance certificates issued by the cane commissioner.
“In previous years, sugarcane growers had been subjected to injustices committed by the sugar mills owners and resultantly a number of incidents of burning the crop at fields took place,” the source said, adding that currently, there was a lot of demand of Pakistani sugar in the international market due to a decline in sugar production in two major sugar producing countries, Brazil and India.
“The recent drought has heavily affected the crop yield and slowed down the cane development in Brazil. Instead of maturing, the new cane planted last year deteriorated due to extreme dry weather. A delay of about two weeks is expected in the crop this time,” he said, adding that India’s sugar production was 14.3 million tonnes up to February 15, 2014.