Sometimes, even the Governments take rational decisions. Such decisions should be hailed and appreciated. It was reported in the Daily News that the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) on Tuesday foiled a clever move initiated by the powerful sugar barons to impose 15 to 25 per cent regulatory duty on the import of 1.2 million tons of sugar.

The ECC meeting presided over by Federal Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has rejected the proposal of the Ministry of Industries in this regard.

“The ministry, with the connivance of the powerful sugar barons who have recently swindled about $1 billion by artificially increasing the sugar prices in the open market, floated the idea of imposing 15 to 25 per cent regulatory duty on imported sugar to safeguard the interests of power sugar lobby,” the official said.

But good sense prevailed, he said, as the ECC rejected the proposal saying this

will not bring solace to the masses. “The ECC meeting, after two hours of discussion, rejected the proposal of increasing the GST on sugar from 8-16 per cent and levying 25 per cent regulatory duty on the import of the commodity.”

When contacted, Iqbal Ahmad, Additional Secretary and spokesman of the Ministry of Industries said that sugar price has reduced in the international market and the government wants to import 1.2 million tons of sugar.

“Right now the sugar price in the international market has dwindled even below $500 per ton, which is much lower than the local price.” If sugar is imported at such reduced price, then the local industry will suffer badly as the sugar price will come down drastically.

“This is the main reason why the Ministry of Industries has proposed the imposition of the regulatory duty,” Ahmad argued. Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Law Dr Babar Awan and Chairman of the Board of Investment Salim Mandiawala, the official said, opposed the proposed regulatory duty on sugar saying this will protect the interests of the powerful lobby of local sugar manufacturers and the government should import sugar free of the regulatory duty.

We can only say, “so sweet of you.”

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