Punjab cabinet decisions

CHIEF Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar chaired cabinet meeting on Tuesday, which took a number of decisions about industry and agriculture, trade facilitation, lowering prices of food commodities, fixing sugarcane price and provision of land to small farmers on lease. The provincial cabinet approved amendment in the Local Government Act 2019 to bring necessary changes in the licensing regime to ensure ease of doing business. Likewise, approval was given to amend Sugar Factories Control Act of 1950 and amendment in policy of granting proprietary rights in leasing schemes to farmers. Other decisions taken in the cabinet meeting included formation of ministerial committee to submit recommendations for fixing sugarcane support price; import of 300,000 tonnes of sugar through Trading Corporation of Pakistan; and removal of section-4 of Punjab Privitisation Board Act 2010 to empower Commissioners to supervise the auction process of state land. The meeting also approved to declare smog as calamity and included it in Punjab Calamity Act 1958. Federal government has already done away with a number of cumbersome regulatory procedures, which has improved Ease of Doing Business Index by 28 points. The amendment in the licensing regime of Local Government Act 2019 will bring further improvement. However, the economic environment will remain discouraging till such time drastic reforms are implemented in the taxes and duty regimes in addition to lowering the tariffs of electricity and gas, which fall within the domain of federal government.
The Sugar Factories Control Act contains provisions about determining the quantity of sugarcane required by factories, constitution of sugarcane board, ensuring cultivation of high ratio sugar recovery varieties of sugarcane, declaration of reserve areas for the purchase of sugarcane and ensuring payment of minimum support price to growers and curb cheating in weight by sugar mills. Government has always remained helpless to implement the laws pertaining to payment of minimum price to sugarcane growers and clearing the accumulate arrears. On June 12, 2019 Supreme Court of Pakistan passed an order directing therein several sugar mill owners to clear the outstanding dues to the sugarcane growers within two days and hand over cheques to respective deputy commissioners for distribution among the growers.