Sugar mills across both Sindh and Punjab have once again suspended operations till infinite time on Wednesday morning against non-issuance of quality premium notification by the government, industry sources said.
"Yes, we (PSMA members) have stopped sugarcane crushing and will continue till the issues are resolved" confirmed Aslam Farooq, Chairman Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) Sindh Zone, when contacted on late Wednesday evening.
PSMA members said suspension of sugarcane crushing would continue till all outstanding issues were resolved. Moreover, PSMA Punjab zone has also joined hands with the PSMA Sindh zone by suspending sugarcane crushing to launch an effective protest to press their demands, an office-bearer of PSMA Punjab zone told Business Recorder.
He said government had not so far issued a notification on quality premium, which was expected two months back from now therefore, PSMA closed crushing operations against the non-issuance of quality premium notification.
He pointed out that cost of sugar production was higher than its retail price in the local market, which was likely to further decline in days to come, which may hit the sugar mills badly.
He said the government had imposed sales tax on Rs 25.50 per kg, while sugar price in the local market was going down, which also required to be reviewed to resume the sugarcane crushing in both provinces.
He apprised that PSMA would hold a meeting with the federal government either on Friday or Saturday to decide the fate of sugarcane crushing. On the other hand, members of sugarcane growers' association said that growers were providing the commodity on Rs 100 per 40-kg to mills, and mills were obtaining sugarcane from them without any hesitation.
However, he alleged that some of the mills were creating problems for growers, besides pressurising the operational sugar mills to bring their crushing operations to a halt on the pretext of non-supply of sugarcane from growers. "We are offered Rs 100 per-40 kg of sugarcane by the several operational sugar mills and we are pleased to provide them on the offering price, which is lucrative for us," he elaborated.
Those members of PSMA, whose mills are suspended to have been behind the issue to raise it recurrently on the false grounds of non-availability of sugarcane to mills, he maintained. Sugarcane was being supplied in a sufficient quantity to mills, he added.
Our Lahore correspondent adds: According to a spokesman for the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA), Punjab Zone, it was agreed by the government at the commencement of crushing season that sugar retail price in the market would sustain at Rs 34 per kg and the ex-mills rate would be Rs 31 per kg. However, the government reduced the sugar price in violation of the agreement.
The spokesman said as many as 40 sugar mills in Punjab were to start crushing on January 2, but on the closure of mills in Sindh, Punjab mills followed suit.