LAHORE -  Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) on Thursday called of its strike pledging to start production of ghee and vegetable oil in mills across the country following a successful talks with Punjab Food Minister Bilal Yasin.

PVMA GENERAL SECRETARY Umar Islam said that it was agreed that PVMA would call off strike while government will reopen their mills, ceiled the previous day by the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) for violation of health regulations. More over all fines imposed by the PFA will be withdrawn and considered as null and void.

The meeting was attended by the Industries minister, food secretary and PFA DG Noorul Amin Mangal. The minister has constituted a committee consisting of representatives from PVMA and government, for finalising SOPs (standard operating procedures) as per the standards of PSQCA to run the ghee mills in future.

It is pertinent to mention here that around 120 mills across the country, manufacturing more than 10,000 tons of ghee and edible oil on daily basis, had stopped their production while raw material dispatch had also been stopped from Karachi.

PVMA Executive Body member Inaam Bari alleged that PFA, which existed nowhere in any other province, was taking action against our member mills one-sided. He said the PFA had taken the samples not from the factories rather from the market, without sharing the results neither with the manufacturers nor with the shopkeeper and trying to defame ghee manufacturers by publishing ads against popular brands which follow the international standards.

He said, “We are ready to follow all rules and standards of PFA, as we are already implementing the given standards of PSQCA.” The ghee/ cooking oil sector is contributing around Rs120 billion annually to the government exchequer in the form of Custom Duty, Federal Excise Duty and Income Tax etc, he added. He said the PVMA member units are not only catering to the needs of the country, but also supplying this dietary item to Afghanistan and the Central Asian States. He said that the industry provides employment to more than 100,000 persons. PVMA member units’ annual production capacity is around 3 million tons.

According to the market survey, no shortage in supply of ghee and cooking oil were reported after the announcement of strike by the mills. However, prices of some brands of ghee, in 20kg tin pack, was increased to some extent, which might increase further if the strike prolonged.