KARACHI - Instead of doing its basic job of protecting the consumers’ interests by ensuring the availability of essential commodities including sugar to the common man at affordable prices, Trading Corporation of Pakistan is facilitating sugar mills owners, the ruling elite of the country.

Qurban Ali Shah, Chairman Sugarcane Growers Association, told The Nation that TCP mostly play its role just to facilitate the sugar mills by ignoring the rights of helpless consumers. “The yearly consumption of sugar in Pakistan is around 4500000 tons while the sugar mills of the country produce around 8500000 tons during a year,” he claimed.

Most of the power players, he said, have deep charm in this business where a sugar mill easily beats three or four time the invested amount in term of returns, he added. Qurban Ali Shah said there is not a single politician in the country who does not have the sugar mill and that is why TCP officials are afraid of challenging the cartel of sugar mills.

It also pertinent to mention here that a good number of powerful players continue to enjoy lucrative returns in sugar business. A source from the industry informed that in a past, a prime minister sacked the ex-Railways minister Yaqoob Nasir just because the minister also wanted to enjoy the sugar incentives offered by the government.  Just because of TCP, the rulers export their own sugar to other countries and avail the facility of subsidy offered by the PML-N government during its last tenure, he added.  It is on record that the large quantity of sugar is purchased by TCP on high price by the mils owners who belong to ruling class of the country.

When contacted, TCP spokesman was reluctant to reply over the existing position of TCP for the procurement of sugar.

In 2013-14, the TCP procured 411,855 metric tons of sugar through open tenders from local sugar mills for supplying the same to the Utility Stores for its further sale to the public at ‘affordable’ price. The price difference was paid by the federal government.

The federal government releases over Rs160 billion to the TCP annually for purchase of commodities on the directives of Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). Acting on the directives of the federal government, TCP, the principal trading arm of the Government of Pakistan, undertakes import of essential commodities to help ensure their availability to the common man at affordable prices. It intervenes in the market in the larger public interest to ensure fair price to growers, as well as to preempt hoarding and profiteering.

As it ardently strives for decartelization, TCP’s procurements strictly adhere to the Public Procurement Rules, 2004, brought into place by the Government of Pakistan, with a view to providing level playing field to the market players and ensuring utmost transparency of the procurement processes of the public sector enterprises.