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Sunday October 24, 2021

PAC for slashing down sugarcane crop

October 15, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) slammed sugar mills mafia and recommended slashing down of production of sugarcane to control the sugar mafia in the country.

The Public Accounts Committee held its meeting on Thursday, which was headed by its Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain, in which the audit paras related to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research for the year 2019-20 were examined.

PAC Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain said that due to the increase in the sugarcane crop in the country, the valuable cotton crop is being depleted and despite this, sugar has to be imported, adding water consumption is very high in the sugarcane crop.

He said as long as there is sugar mills mafia in the country, the problems will not be reduced. “I suggest that all the sugar mills in the country should be closed and sugar should be imported,” he said.

The PAC chairman said the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) needs to be reformed as no new variety is being brought and we could do zoning of every crop area.

PMLN leader Khawaja Asif said that some people have become billionaires due to the monopoly of sugar mills, while the country has to bear losses at the economic front. He said the politicians have formed cartels in the sugar sectors and the sugar mills have become mafia and even politicians own eight to 10 sugar mills each.

“Unfortunately, a large part of the sugar mills mafia includes the politicians and the rest of the mills are also under the influence of them and their ATMs. Sugar mills must be closed and sugar’s import needs to be reviewed. Sugarcane crop draws more water, while the water reserves are depleting,” he said.

The PAC sought details of programme to promote olive cultivation from the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. It also directed the PARC to take urgent measures in the field of research to enhance production of other commodities, including wheat and cotton.

Chairman PAC Rana Tanveer Hussain said that growing cotton instead of sugarcane is more beneficial for the country, adding no work is being done in the agricultural sector, including cotton for the past several years.

The secretary said that the cotton crop is expected to get 9.2 million bales this year and the subsidy price of cotton is more than Rs 5,000. He said that the subsidy price of wheat has also been increased, adding that a subsidy of Rs 15 billion is being given for the Rabi crop.

In the meeting, the auditor general said that the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has presented the best variety of Pakistani cotton as well as wheat. The audit officials said that the PARC officials had obtained grants from abroad without the permission of the federal government. The committee directed to seek permission from the Ministry of Finance.

On the issue of not providing the record of more than Rs 75.3 million in the account to the audit authorities, the secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research told the committee that all the records would be shared with the audit authorities.