Import substitution
Pakistan supposedly is an agricultural economy, but unfortunately agriculture’s contribution to our GDP is negative. The fact is this is the one sector which is exempted from tax and our sugar mill owners — mostly politicians — are enjoying the benefits of this exemption. Sugar is not only bad for health, but its production also consumes a huge quantity of water (up to 4,000 litres of water are required to produce one kilogram of sugar), and water is getting scarce every year. 

Sugar exports are subsidised by the government, the fertiliser required for it is also subsidised, and as a result sugar mill owners further enrich themselves and are able to buy expensive properties abroad (as some of our politicians have done). The government should immediately stop aiding those involved in sugar production. Instead, it should help farmers to produce those items that we import at a cost of billions of rupees, like lentils and palm oil. Import substitution is badly needed for the economy to recover.

Shakir Lakhani
The News, November 18, 2017