LAHORE – The ghee and cooking oil industry suffered a loss of around Rs 4.77 billion ($50 million) in September due to sudden decline in international edible oil prices.This was stated by Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturer’s Association (PVMA) newly-elected chairman Khawaja Arif Qasim here on Friday. He said that in September the edible oil rate witnessed a huge cut of over $200 per ton. As a result, the local industry passed on the declining effect of commodity to local market as per international rate by reducing the cooking oil as well as ghee rates by Rs10-15 per kg. For this the PVMA members suffered a serious loss, as manufacturers usually have a stock of over 250,000 tons of palm oil across the country, he said.He said that prices of palm oil have fallen to three-year lows this week amid concerns over an unseasonably large build-up of inventories in Malaysia, the world’s second-largest producer, and fears over weakening demand from China.The sharp falls compound an already depressed picture for palm oil prices, which have fallen about 40 per cent from this year’s high in April. He said that palm oil is a key ingredient in processed food and accounts for about 32 per cent of all vegetable oil consumption. He stated that presently, wholesale or factory rate of cooking oil is in the range of Rs135 to Rs150 per kg after decline in rates of international edible prices. But unfortunately, retailers have kept the rates flat despite considerable cut by the manufacturers. He said that the industry consumes edible oil extracted from local and imported oil seeds to the tune of $1.3 billion. The cumulative sector’s annual turnover touches around Rs500 billion per year. The sector, directly and indirectly, contributes over Rs120 billion to the national exchequer in the shape of duty and taxes and other levies, he added.PVMA chairman urged government functionaries to take action against unregistered companies marketing sub-standard vegetable ghee and cooking oil. The chairman said that unscrupulous elements are selling unregistered brands in the market for their profits, bringing bad name to vanaspati industry which is bound to provide vegetable oil to masses at affordable prices.The PVMA newly elected chairman said the association is adopting measures to maintain quality of products and tackle problems faced by industry.Arif Qasim reiterated the importance of industrial sector in job creation and provision of vegetable ghee and cooking oil to masses at affordable price without any interruption. He also stressed to take on board the government functionaries in maintaining the quality and ensuring the adulteration to be removed by apprehending unregistered and unscrupulous elements. It is to be noted that the Lahore-based leading industrialist Arif Qasim has been elected unopposed as chairman for the second tenure of the year 2012-13. Earlier he has enjoyed this post in the year 2009-10.