Friday November 26, 2021

Handling of allocated imported sugar

September 24, 2020

LAHORE: The cane commissioner Punjab has refused the orders of the secretary Food for handling of the allocated imported sugar by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) for Punjab by ensuring the disbursement across the province and make arrangements for the deposit of the proceeds in the accounts of the TC

The TCP on the orders of the federal government is importing 300,000 tons of refined white sugar to maintain buffer stocks.

According to a letter No.C.C.Admin (2)-17-19 dated September 19 2020, written by Cane Commissioner Punjab Muhammad Zaman Wattoo, a copy of which is available with The News, it was stated that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan is importing sugar for Punjab. The first shipment of 25,000 metric tons is likely to reach Karachi in the first week of October 2020. It has been indicated that the office of the cane commissioner Punjab would be responsible for taking delivery of the sugar through Punjab Sugar Dealers Association, distribute it across the province through a network of retail outlets and make arrangements for deposit of proceeds in the accounts of the Trading Corporation of Pakistan.

Zaman Wattoo stating the laws wrote that under the Punjab Government Rules of Business 2011, the Food Department is responsible for administration of the following laws: A) The Punjab Foodstuff (Control) Act 1958 and rules/orders made thereunder, B) The Punjab Sugar Factories (Control) Act 1950 and rules/orders made thereunder, C) The Punjab Finance Act 1964 and Punjab Sugarcane (Development) Cess Rules 1964.

It was stated that there is a clear demarcation of jurisdiction of two attached departments of the Food Department. The Directorate of Food is responsible for foodstuff which, as per Section 2 of the Punjab Foodstuff (Control) Act 1958, includes wheat, flour, Rawa, Suji, Rice, sugar and any other commodity notified as such by the government. The cane commissioner in the letter to the secretary Food stated that the Cane Commissionerate is responsible for administration of Sugar Factories (Control) Act 1950 and rules made thereunder. The Act and the Rules saddle the Cane Commissionerate with the responsibility of regulating the supply, pricing, payment of growers’ dues and development cess.

Under the law, sugar has always been dealt with as a foodstuff item by the Directorate of Food. The Punjab Sugar Distribution Order 1960 made the Directorate of Food responsible for distribution of sugar under the arrangement made thereunder. No amendments have been made in the law of assigning any responsibility pertaining to foodstuff to the Cane Commissionerate.

The cane commissioner mentioned in the letter that the Commissionerate is too understaffed to handle this assignment. Apart from 5 Class-4 employees and 3 employees of mobile sucrose lab, it has only a staff of 7 officials. As against this, the Directorate of Food has sanctioned strength of more than 4,000 personnel.

The letter further stated that with only a handful staff, the Cane Commissionerate is not in a position to undertake this huge exercise which involves stationing of staff at Karachi, making arrangements of around 2,604 trucks for timely transportation of shipments of 125,000 metric tons, tracking movement of trucks, coordinating distribution across the province and ensuring deposit of proceeds.

Further, Wattoo stated that the delay in dispatch of sugar from the port can entail demurrage of $10,000 per day. Besides, the Cane Commissionerate lacks required experience for such an operation. As against this, the staff of the Directorate of Food has the right kind of expertise of storage, release, transportation and distribution of wheat and flour.

The cane commissioner in the letter stated that the Cane Commissionerate is engaged in a lot of important work. It is engaged in the huge exercise of recovery of growers’ dues, etc. Besides, proposed amendments also need constant follow-up. In addition, many other tasks including consultations for fixation of minimum support price of sugarcane, which are of urgent nature, are also under way. The assignment of the responsibility of sugar will seriously jeopardize these tasks.

Secretary Food Asad Rehman Gillani said it is an internal matter and will be handled carefully. Further, such departmental issues occur but are resolved as we are public servants and doing the public service.