ECC extends ban on sugar export

Our Correspondent
Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet Monday approved the continuation of ban on the export of sugar.

The ban was extended after the food ministry’s proposal that the remaining allocated quota for export be cancelled. Top official sources told The News after the ECC meeting that the last government had allowed the export of 250,000 metric tons of sugar in the previous financial year when the sugar industry claimed bumper production in the range of 8 million tons.

The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association claimed that the country will have two months of sugar beyond its needs when the next crushing season starts in November 2023. The PSMA argued that a bumper crop of sugarcane will add to the surplus production.

The ECC was informed that the domestic prices of sugar witnessed a surge despite the country possessing a carry-over stock of 0.99 MMT from the previous year (2021-22) and a bumper crop of sugarcane during the year 2022-23.

Taking notice of this increase in price, the government fixed the sugar price at Rs98.82/kg. Consequently, the food ministry fixed the price of white crystalline sugar at Rs98.82/kg.

Under the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of the “Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act 1977, the same is suspended by the Lahore High Court, Lahore and status quo is maintained in pursuance of court order, which is assailed in the Lahore High Court, Lahore and Supreme Court.

The FBR reported in mid-August that 2.27 MMT sugar was left in the stocks which would hardly meet the domestic consumption requirements till the start of the next crushing season. On the other hand, Sindh has also increased the Indicative Price of Sugarcane to Rs425/40 kg.

Keeping in view all these facts, the Ministry of National Food Security & Research proposed that the ECC may review its decision made earlier regarding the export of sugar and cancel the remaining quota already allocated to the sugar industry, and impose a complete ban on the export of sugar in the future.

However, an official statement issued by the Ministry of Finance states that the Caretaker Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, and Privatization Dr. Shamshad Akhtar chaired the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Monday.

Sami Saeed, Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, Umar Saif, Minister for IT and Telecom, Dr. Waqar Masood, Advisor to the PM on Finance, Federal Secretaries and other senior officers attended the meeting.

The ministry submitted a summary for cancellation of export quota of sugar with a ban on export of sugar while briefing the meeting about the production, stock position of sugar, consumption and rising prices of sugar in the market, and its impact on overall food inflation.

The ECC reviewed its previous decision on the export quota of sugar and after detailed discussion and deliberation decided that in light of the previous decision of the ECC on the matter, the ban on export of sugar was already in place post 10th of August, 2023. The ECC further directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to prepare and submit regular reports on availability of sugar stocks, consumption, and pricing to the ECC in order to enable it to monitor the availability and pricing of this important commodity. It also directed the ministry to coordinate with all the relevant agencies and authorities to check smuggling and hoarding of sugar.