ISLAMABAD The government on Tuesday allowed private sector to import raw sugar in the wake of prices soared over Rs 85 per kg in open market and is likely to reach Rs 65 per kg at the state-owned Utility Stores. Growers might be perturbed as they already had been hit hard by the unprecedented floods in the country, as the harvest season arrives next month. Still the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet in its meeting decided to completely liberalise the import of the raw sugar. But this would not apply to the refined sugar that would remain the same as it was, said Secretary Finance Salman Siddiq while briefing journalists on the ECC decisions However, growers feared that this decision would further facilitate the intermediaries and the millers to stay in an exploitative position against them. On rather minimising the role of the intermediaries in order to protect the basic rights of the farmers, the Secretary said, We did a lot of work on that when I was posted in Punjab province as Chief Secretary when we redrafted a law for agricultural marketing. But when asked what was the update on this issue in the context of the government allowing import of raw sugar, he said nothing. Moreover, the ECC also decided to encourage canola cultivation ahead of the wheat-sowing season approaching fast by asking the State Bank to provide credit line this drive. When asked who was behind this move establishing a credit line from the central bank, he said that this was a proposal from the Agriculture Ministry. In fact this was the idea of President Asif Ali Zardari who had advised the government to encourage canola sowing in the month of September and October just before the wheat-sowing season. They took nearly a month in mobilising the plan when the half of the limited implementation time had already lost. The Secretary shied away from the question of the budget revision that was supposed to be underway as necessitated by the devastating floods. Earlier, he told the briefing that the government has already devolved the authority to fix the issue price of the wheat and for the stock held by the PASCO it had cascaded the price using the base price of Rs 950. It would increase by Rs 15 per 40 kilogram after every month. The ECC also approved a relief package of Rs 21.4 billion for distribution of free seeds and fertilizers to the farmers in the areas hit by the floods. Answering a question on skyrocketing inflation, he said for the government to spend less was the precise answer. Regarding the change in the budgetary preferences in the wake of floods, he said that both the development and the current expenditures needed reprioritisation.