The federal government has decided to transfer the Sugar Advisory Board (SAB) from the Ministry of Industries and Production (MoI&P) to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MoNFS&R).
Sources said that the Cabinet Committee on Institutional Reforms (CCIR) will decide about the transfer of the SAB from the MoI&P to the MoNFS&R on Thursday.
The Minister for Industries and Production, Khusro Bukhtyar, had requested Prime Minister Imran Khan in April to transfer the SAB from his ministry in order to prevent any perceived conflicts of interest. Note that the Bukhtyar family is associated with Pakistan’s sugar business and its name has also surfaced in the sugar inquiry commission.
The premier had then directed the MoI&P to hold meetings and move a summary to transfer the SAB to any other division.
Sources said that MoI&P has held consultation meetings with stakeholders and has, in principle, decided to transfer the SAB to the MoNFS&R under the supervision of Fakhar Imam.
According to the terms of reference, the SAB has a mandate to identify issues pertaining to the Research and Development of sugarcane with regard to crop varieties, quality seed, seed treatment, fertilizers, pesticides, disease and provide guidelines for improvement in the productivity of cane.
It is also responsible for studying farmers’ investments in the production of sugarcane and suggesting profitable prices whereby the farmers, millers, and consumers may coexist. Additionally, it addresses the issues that the farmers face when marketing their cane, including weighing, payment, cane delivery, and premium on sugar recovery.
Its additional duties include rationalizing sugarcane cess across various provinces, taking measures to affect the recoveries of sugarcane cess from the defaulting mills, and ensuring the effective utilization of the cess funds for the Research and Development of sugarcane and other allied matters such as the development of the rural roads to the sugar mills.
Furthermore, the board is responsible for addressing the sugarcane cess across the provinces, taking measures to address the liquidity and working capital problems of the sugar industry, improving their working efficiency, and increasing the recovery of sugar from the cane.
Lastly, it also functions to work out the domestic requirement of sugar, assess the supply prospects, and forward suggestions to the government to signal for the imports or exports of sugar.