Sugar import from India offer multiple benefits for Pakistan

KARACHI: Government’s decision to import sugar from India is widely being criticized by several circles, undermining the benefits of trade ties with the neighboring countries.

First of all, imported sugar would break the monopoly of the local sugar cartel, which is allegedly led by PM Imran Khan’s former associate Jahangir Tareen. With the presence of Indian sugar in the market, local millers will not be able to blackmail authorities or manipulate prices.

To sum up, this will be an effective strategy of Imran Khan led government to keep check on the prices of edibles and beverages in Ramazan.

Although, the federal cabinet rejected the summary forwarded by Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) regarding import of cotton from India, a step in the positive direction i.e. import of sugar from India would open up massive trade and investment opportunities for the business community of two countries.

Ban on the import of goods originating from India is nothing but an excuse for whatever reason, nothing different than standing for 30 minutes to free Kashmir.

Local markets are flooded with Indian goods including cloth, laces, garments, auto parts, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, medicines, spices and many other things.  All these are smuggled into the country and consumed by the Pakistanis across the country.

Since Indian products are already coming to the country, might as well regularize this trade and earn revenue for the persistently cash-starved government.

On the other hand, India is even more lucrative market for Pakistani exporters such as cement, cloth, vegetables, fruits, leather products and many others. India is a big buyer of coal, exporting Thar coal to India through rail can be a game changer for Thar and its peoples. Keep in mind a large number of Hindus live in Thar and they have their entire families and relatives across border, while there is frequent travelling of Tharis between the two countries through the border. This has never been a security threat.

Trade with neighbors is highly cost efficient, fast, and its importance in economic growth must not be ignored.

It seems that PM Imran Khan knows exactly whatever he is doing. Imran Khan is taking the decisions only in the interest of the country and its people. The recent removal of Hafeez Shaikh and Nadeem Babar is the part of a strategy to streamline things and develop a synergy among the government ranks. Shaukat Tareen is also likely to be onboard soon, may be, as the Finance Minister.

Imran Khan has been quite pre-occupied lately, but things are moving in the right direction barring inflation and fiscal operations.

Coming back to sugar, earlier this week, the FIA summoned the chief financial officers (CFOs) and heads of sales of eight major sugar groups in connection with the ‘speculative price-hike’ of the sweetener.

FIA summoned the chief financial officers (CFOs) and heads of sales of PTI’s Jahangir Tareen’s JDW Sugar Mills for April 2, Maryam Nawaz and Sharif family’s Chaudhry Sugar Mills on March 31, Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz’s Ramzan Sugar Mills on April 2, Madina Sugar Mills of Kissan group on April 7, Hamza Sugar Mills on April 8 and three others in the sugar scam.

The FIA has recently detected Rs110 billion earning by the sugar mafia during the last one year through ‘speculative pricing’ and it initiated action against those involved in it.

Moreover, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has filed FIRs against former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen, his son Ali Tareen, and other family members in the sugar scandal and money laundering charges.

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