LAHORE - SALMAN ABDUHU - India, the world’s largest sugar consumer, is considering to double the import tax on refined variety of sugar to 20 per cent to stop the entry of less expensive Pakistani sugar into India. New Delhi will also abolish a levy on raw sweetener to protect domestic producers as well as encourage value-addition, it was learnt.
Industry said that government should monitor sugar production and allow exports when produce is sufficient through sugar mills with a view to bail out growers. In the same way when production is short, the sugar mills can import raw sugar to fulfil the requirement of consumers. They said that raw sugar will not only remove the scarcity when production is short but also continue the industrial activities in the country, enabling the millers to pay dues to growers in time.
Pakistan Sugar Mills Association Punjab Zone chairman Riaz Qadeer Butt said that Iran has recently refused to purchase refined sugar from Pakistan despite the fact that it is facing great shortage of sweetener.
Iran demanded from Pakistan to trade raw sugar with it so that the country’s industrial activities could not be halted, he maintained. He said that India, the world’s biggest producer after Brazil, presently imposes a 10 per cent tax on overseas purchases of sugar. “International sugar prices have fallen significantly in the last couple of months due to improved sugar production in Brazil and better production in countries like Thailand, China, Pakistan and Russia, but Pakistan has lowest rate of sweetener.
Industry sources said that the prices of Brazilian raw sugar are ruling around $500 a ton while Indian white sugar prices have climbed by around 25% in the past three months to about $680 a ton, making imports a profitable proposition. 
They said that with a view to control sugar export from Pakistan, the Indian government will increase duty on refined sugar. On the other hand, New Delhi will also abolish levy on raw sweetener to encourage value-addition despite shortage.
The PSMA leader, flaying commercial export, said that export of sugar without quota restrictions will hurt the main objective of bailing out growers, as in this way a single mill will export the whole commodity. He said that nowhere in the world, including India, commercial export of sugar is allowed. Only sugar millers in every country are allowed to export sugar, he added.
Industrial production is the major driver of economy so all the commercial activity whether it is export or import for value addition should be done through industry as it protects all stakeholders, interest, Butt added.