LAHORE - In order to put pressure on government for the acceptance of demands, sugar millers have straightforwardly refused to pay worth Rs 35 billion outstanding amount to growers in the Punjab province. Sources said that due to differences between sugar mills owners and the Punjab government, the millers have stopped payment to growers to blackmail the government. We cannot pay the arrears worth Rs 35 billion to the growers until and unless the sugar stocks are sold. We dont have the cash to pay, Chairman Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) Javed Kayani told media here on Friday. He demanded the government to ban import of sugar in country stating, sugar should only be imported through the TCP. He also demanded the government not to impose Vale Added Tax (VAT) on sugar industry. Market sources revealed that the millers wanted to increase the sugar prices in the country by creating artificial shortage that is possible only if the independent import of sugar is banned. When the traders will start importing sugar, the prices of sweetener will decrease in the local market and the millers could not afford this, a local sugar dealer said, when contacted. Therefore, the millers wanted to import sugar through the TCP in order to maintain the high prices of sugar in the local market, he maintained. It is worth mentioning here that a couple of weeks back, the Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif came forward and requested the Federal government not to impose duty on import of sugar in order to ensure availability of sugar on low prices to provide relief to the inflation-hit public. The duty free import of sugar will help decrease the prices of sweetener in the local market. This will be a setback to the sugar industry as the millers had purchased sugarcane from the growers at high rates, a sugar mill owner said, seeking anonymity. We cannot afford this financial loss, he added. On the other hand, a good number of farmers on Friday threatened that they would commit collective suicide outside the Chief Ministers Secretariat as the sugar millers have refused to pay their outstanding amount despite the lapse of several months. Thousands of farmers in Punjab are running from pillar to post to get their payments from mills. We are planning to commit collective suicide outside CM House as the management of Abdullah Sugar Mills have refused to pay Rs 14 crore to the growers, M Aashiq, a farmer from Okara district said. Meanwhile, the growers have appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of highhandedness of the sugar millers and provide justice to the innocent farmers.