In a surprising turn of events, the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) has voiced its dismay over the Punjab government’s decision to procure sugar at an exorbitant price of Rs140 per kg from sugar mill owners. Khalid Mahmood Khokhar, President of Pakistan Kissan Ittehad, expressed astonishment at the unilateral steps taken by the government, allowing a staggering 40 percent increase in sugar prices.
Khokhar highlighted that while the sugarcane minimum purchase price was set at Rs300 per 40kg for the previous crop, the federal government had established the sugar retail price at Rs98.82 per kg for the current marketing season. The sudden deviation from these figures, with the Punjab government permitting mill owners to increase sugar prices significantly, was labeled as arbitrary and raised concerns among farmers.
Caretaker Chief Minister’s Statement
The PKI President commented on the recent statement by the Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab regarding the sale of sugar at concessionary rates in model bazaars and Sunday bazaars. The CM stated that sugar mill owners would sell sugar to the provincial government at a rate of Rs140 per kg, ostensibly to benefit the people of the province.
Farmers’ Justified Concerns
Khokhar emphasized that if sugar mill management is allowed to sell sugar at a much higher price, farmers have a justified right to demand over 40 percent higher sugarcane dues for the previous crop with retrospective effect. Farmers, being both cultivators and consumers of sugar, have the right to seek compensation for the disparity in sugarcane prices, mirroring the concessions granted to sugar mill owners.
Backstabbing Farmers and Consumers
The PKI President condemned the decision to increase sugar prices without consulting stakeholders, particularly sugarcane growers. He described this move as tantamount to backstabbing farmers and consumers alike. The abrupt decision by the Punjab government to raise sugar prices by over 40 percent is deemed shocking, contrary to established rules and regulations, and primarily benefits mill owners rather than farmers or consumers.
Call for Investigation
Khokhar demanded a thorough investigation into the calculation of the wrong sugarcane price for the previous season, which was set much lower than expected. He questioned why the rate of sugarcane was fixed on the lower side and suggested that the government should have investigated this discrepancy before allowing such a substantial increase in sugar prices.
As the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad raises valid concerns over the Punjab government’s decision to hike sugar prices, the need for transparency, fair pricing, and stakeholder consultations becomes paramount. The disparity between sugarcane prices and the subsequent increase in sugar rates raises questions about the government’s commitment to the welfare of farmers and consumers. As this issue unfolds, it calls for a thorough investigation and a reconsideration of policies to ensure a fair and equitable system for all parties involved.