The Sugar inquiry Commission has stated that the response of Abdul Razak Dawood, regarding the continuation of export of sugar despite the price hike, was not convincing.
Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and investments appeared before the Commission. According to the report, he explained that the country was in dire straits with a very low level of foreign exchange available and in this background, since there were sufficient surplus stocks available, the export of sugar was allowed.
According to him, one of the items that China had agreed to include in the list of imports that China allowed was sugar. When asked whether the stocks and strategic reserves position as stated by PSMA could be relied upon, he stated that all this data was provided by the cane commissioners in the meetings of the FAB and therefore, were reliable.
Regarding the reasons for the increase in the price of sugar due to export and the shortage of stocks of sugar in the country, he contended that there was no shortage of sugar in the country at any point during the year and the stocks always remained sufficient and in fact, there were carry-over stocks available even at the end of the year.
In his opinion, the linkage between exports and shortage of stocks with the increase in price was therefore, not justified.
Responding to another question on why the fortnightly meetings of the inter-ministerial committee headed by him, as decided in the meeting of the ECC, were not held, he stated that the inter-Ministerial Committee and the Sugar Advisory Board have the same participants and therefore, due to this overlap the matter was regularly discussed in the meetings of the SAB which was the more appropriate forum.
He was further asked that despite the fact that the issue of rapidly increasing prices was raised in the SAB meetings by the provinces, no decision was made to discontinue the export of sugar. He responded that they had international commitments to export sugar by May 2019 and these obligations had to be fulfilled.
Since there was no shortage of stocks, the increase in prices of sugar cannot be attributed to the exports.
The Commission was of the view that it is correct that the country was in need of foreign exchange and there were prima facie sufficient stocks of sugar available for export.
However, the response of Abdul Rezak Dawood, regarding the continuation of export of sugar despite the price hike, was not found convincing by the Commission. The decision to export sugar was followed by an increase in the price of sugar in the local market.
The contention that the export was not discontinued because export commitments to China were to be honored, does not hold much weight. The export to China alone could have been allowed to continue. This intervention was required to curtail the manipulative activities and give a clear message to the market about the seriousness of the government to intervene and control the prices through a ban on exports, said the report.
The Commission has gathered enough evidence to establish that the export of sugar is one of the reasons for the increase in the price of sugar in the domestic market as well as other factors like market manipulation hoarding, forward contracts.
The Commission was of the opinion that the Sugar Advisory Board failed to take a timely decision to ban the export of sugar.