KARACHI - The Sindh cabinet has decided to grant an additional subsidy of Rs9.3 per kg for the export of surplus sugar , in order to resolve the ongoing dispute between growers and sugar mills owners.

The decision was taken at the cabinet meeting held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah here at the New Sindh Secretariat on Monday. The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, advisers, special assistants, chief secretary and concerned secretaries.

The agriculture department presented an item in the cabinet that PASMA had requested for grant of subsidy for the export of sugar .  Minister for Home & Agriculture Sohail Siyal told the cabinet that there was 500,000 tonnes of surplus sugar available with the millers.

“PASMA says that the production cost of sugar comes to Rs64.19 per kg. Therefore, purchase of sugarcane at Rs182 per kg was not feasible for them until and unless they were allowed to export the surplus sugar and given Rs20 per kg subsidy on it because the sugar price in the international market was very low,” minister added.

It may be noted that the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet has allowed the export of 1.5 tonnes of sugar and a cash freight support of Rs10.7/kg even then the millers are not ready to start the crushing.

Therefore, in order to resolve the matter the cabinet may approve the remaining amount of subsidy of Rs9.3 per kg on the export of sugar , requested the agriculture department.

The ministers and secretaries discussed the matter threadbare and finally the cabinet approved the subsidy on export of sugar . Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that there must be a condition for the sugar mill owners to clear the liabilities of the growers to qualify for availing the subsidy . The other item the cabinet discussed in detail was fixing of wheat procurement target.

The meeting was told that there was a bumper crop of wheat this year. Its production is likely to come to 4.2 tonnes. It was pointed out that in the government stocks over 1.7 tonnes of wheat is stored. The cabinet members discussed and decided to fix the procurement target of wheat at 1.4 tonnes for Rs13 per 40 kg.

Minister for Food & Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Khuhro said that the provincial government was trying to export 300,000 tonnes of wheat, but the federal government was reluctant to announce the rebate.

Sindh Energy Department presented an item in the cabinet for the acquisition of additional working interests in the Hub block.  The cabinet was told that Sindh Energy Holding Company (SEHCL) was founded in pursuance of Petroleum Policy 2012 to acquire 2.5 percent working interest in the oil & gas exploration and production blocks partly or wholly located in Sindh.

The cabinet was informed that SEHCL had initially acquired working interest on full participation basis with PPL and OGDCL in seven oil and gas exploration and production blocks located in Sindh.

The blocks with working interest share of OGDC are Ranipur 2.5 percent share, Armala 2.5 percent, Zorgarh 1.7 percent and of PPL Shah Bandar 2.5 percent, Khipro East 2.5 percent, Malir 2.5 percent and Hub 0.15 percent.

The cabinet said that the Sindh government must invest in such projects in the larger interest of people of the province. Therefore, it approved the acquisition of 2.5 percent working interests in HUB block of PPL.

The provincial cabinet also approved draft rules for water hydrants in Karachi.

Minister for Local Government Jam Khan Shoro said that there were 200 hydrants in the city and their net profit had never gone up to Rs15 million, but the profit of six hydrants being operated by water board came to Rs80 million. “This is the result of sagacious policy of water board which is working in its interest and in the interest of the people,” he said.

Under the approved rules, there would be a committee for the selection of hydrant location and such other matters.

A procedure has been worked out to operate and manage hydrants to be established on the land of water board. There should be a proper agreement with the contractor for arranging electric power source, there should be a quantity of water in gallons and period of supply, tankers specification, licence and criteria for drivers have been specified in the rules. The cabinet approved grant of charter to Government College University, Hyderabad.  Meanwhile, Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Shah briefing the media about the cabinet meeting decisions said that the provincial government had received Rs60 billion short from the federal transfers. “This attitude causes problems for the financial health of the province,” he said.

Brushing aside the impression of giving subsidy on export of sugar just to accommodate a particular person, Nasir Shah said that the decision had been taken to start crushing of the sugarcane.

“Under the new arrangement of giving additional subsidy and fixing sugarcane price, a deadlock between the growers and millers have been brought to an end. Now, neither the cane would dry up nor the crushing would be delayed. The decision has been taken in the interest of the growers and the millers,” he said.