The Commerce Ministry has reportedly finalised a plan to sell 700 tons of imported sugar in the open market after the Utility Stores Corporation(USC) refused to lift the sugar saying it is not only fine grain but also infested with stones and foreign particles, sources close to the Secretary Industries toldBusiness Recorder. The sugar is of Indian, Brazilian and Middle East origin and is stocked at the TCP”s Pipri godowns.
Giving the background, the sources said in pursuance of the directive of the ECC of the Cabinet in its meeting on January 12, 2010 TCP imported 1,104,605 tons of sugar from world-wide sources during 2010-11 and the same was stored in TCP Pipri godown. Subsequently almost all the quantity of imported sugar was delivered to Director General Procurement, Pak Army, Pak Navy, Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan (USC), Canteen Stores Department (CSD) and some quantity to local market for stabilising the prices.
However in January 2012 while lifting sugar, USC raised objection on the quality of Indian origin sugar (Renuka brand), which was imported by M/s Shanig Associates, Karachi. As a result of persistent persuasion, USC agreed to take delivery of this sugar stock, except a quantity of approximately 700 tons of Renuka brand on the ground that it contained high moisture content.
In order to resolve the issue, TCP decided to approach USC with analytical report of this sugar verifying its suitability and fitness for human consumption through a lab report and Chairman TCP wrote to Managing Director, USC to depute a team of officials to lift the saleable quantity of sugar from Pipri godown, the sources added.
On the request of USC, TCP arranged segregation of “Renuka” brand sugar at a high cost to enable USC to lift maximum bags of their choice. However, the USC still refused to lift the sugar stock. The estimated value (landed cost + interest/mark-up) of 700 tons sugar works out to Rs 52.26 million. No storage charges are paid as godowns are owned by TCP.
The sources maintained that TCP sent the sample from left over “Renuka” brand sugar to Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) laboratories working under the control of Ministry of Science & Technology for examining the suitability and fitness for human consumption and the report received on July 18, 2012 revealed that the sugar is fit for human consumption and also within standard limit of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) for moisture. According to standard specification of PSQCA 0.08 percent moisture is acceptable whereas the sugar sample of “Renuka” brand contains 0.046 percent moisture which is within permissible limit and the stocks are not harmful for human consumption. Apparently the bags are in good condition except that the cosmetics of the bags have deteriorated due to prolonged storage.
The Ministry of Commerce sought views/comments from Ministry of Industries which is the administrative ministry of USC regarding disposal of 700 MT of imported sugar. The Ministry of Industries has conveyed that USC has regretted to lift 700 MT sugar on the basis of difference in grain size. “We have decided to sell 700 tons of sugar to dispose of this lot on “as is where is basis” through public tender,” the sources continued.
USC argues that in the presence of bold grain sugar (local), the sale of imported sugar having fine grain is not possible at its outlets. “In this scenario, USC could not lift 700 tons imported Renuka brand sugar from TCP,” said Syed Talha Shah, General Manager (sugar/projects), USC, in his comments on the Commerce Ministry”s proposal.