‘Mismanagement, benefits to traders destroying our sugar mills’

Moshahida Sultana Photograph: Courtesy


Moshahida Sultana Photograph: Courtesy

Moshahida Sultana, affiliate professor on the Division of Accounting and Info Programs in Dhaka College, has been doing analysis on the sugar mills in Bangladesh since 2015. In a dialog with Sumon Ali of The Each day Star, she talks in regards to the state of the sugar mills and the nation’s sugar manufacturing.


We now have a number of demand for sugar. We now have sugar mills, too. Why is the trade in shambles, then?

Since independence, Bangladesh Sugar and Meals Industries Company (BSFIC) and the sugar mills have taken loans price Tk 6,044 crore. The curiosity these loans incurred quantities to Tk 3,085 crore. At current, about Tk 7,946 crore of debt, together with curiosity, must be paid. If the federal government had given subsidies to the sugar mills, the mortgage curiosity wouldn’t be such a giant quantity, and the trade wouldn’t be in such a sorry state. The federal government lacks planning and willingness so far as our sugar mills are involved. It’s eager on offering particular advantages to merchants, which is destroying our sugar mills. 


Why are businessmen given particular advantages?

Nowadays, the federal government’s pursuits can’t be separated from the businessmen’s pursuits. Businessmen have grow to be politicians. Public curiosity has taken a again seat. Revenue tax not advantages public curiosity. Individuals’s cash will get siphoned off to particular person accounts, due to our corruption-riddled economic system. Our sugar mills are bearing the brunt of that. There has all the time been a scarcity of foresight relating to sustainable administration, anti-corruption measures and environment friendly planning on this sector.


How a lot sugar does 100kg of sugarcane produce in Brazil, India and Bangladesh?

Brazil and India each produce 12-14kg of sugar from 100kg of sugarcane. In the meantime, Bangladesh produces 6-7kg solely.

Why does Bangladesh have such a low yield in comparison with Brazil and India?

That’s as a result of our high-yield sugarcane cultivation is restricted. Bangladesh Sugarcrop Analysis Institute (BSRI) claims that the seeds they provide are able to 12-14 p.c sugar yield. However system loss, historic equipment and delays in sugarcane supply to the mills trigger the decline within the yield. If sugarcane can’t be delivered to the mills inside a day of slicing, their sucrose stage drops. This impacts the sugar manufacturing.

What’s the manufacturing value of sugar?

It varies from mill to mill. Mills which can be burdened with debt have increased manufacturing prices. Sure mills can decrease the prices by utilising the by-products. Some mills are affected by the mortgage curiosity. Beforehand, the quantity of debt (together with curiosity) in manufacturing value was 6-7 p.c, however after six sugar mills have been shut down in 2020, it shot as much as 37 p.c on common.

How can the associated fee be decreased?

I recommend equipping all of the sugar mills to utilise the by-products to diversify manufacturing. For instance, Carew and Co has a distillery the place they produce alcohol and sanitisers. Additionally they produce natural fertiliser and electrical energy utilizing the by-products. Some sugar mills have their very own land; they’ll domesticate different crops within the unutilised land. Surviving solely on sugar manufacturing is troublesome in every single place on the earth. We’d like particular insurance policies that hold the individuality of sugar manufacturing in focus.

What sort of assist do farmers get to boost sugarcane provide?

Often, farmers domesticate sugarcane extra and the general manufacturing and provide improve in the event that they get honest costs. Sugarcane farmers have to be given incentives yearly. They have to be given a gentle provide of seeds, fertilisers and loans. They need to be given assurance that the federal government will procure their produce. They get demotivated if they don’t get the suitable value on the proper time. Within the 2010s, farmers didn’t receives a commission correctly for a couple of years, which demotivated them. Prime quality sugarcane should get higher costs. That can encourage farmers to domesticate top quality sugarcane.

What’s the impression of the present state of affairs?

The susceptible situation of the sugar mills has confirmed to be a boon for personal refiners. As a result of this, the market goes into the fingers of privateers. If the non-public sector has management over provide and demand, they’ll improve the costs as they want, which we noticed occur with edible oil. The federal government is unable to manage these companies. The sugar produced at our sugar mills is of top quality and loads more healthy than refined sugar. However even when basic individuals need to, they can not have wholesome sugar. If all our sugar mills have been opened and geared up to extend sugar manufacturing, merchants wouldn’t have the ability to manipulate the market costs for their very own advantages. As the federal government is busy offering advantages to merchants, persons are disadvantaged of a wholesome possibility.

Can we make our sugar mills worthwhile?

After all. It solely wants the federal government’s willingness. Until date, individuals who have been on the helm had little or no data about our sugar trade. People who find themselves concerned with the method, e.g. farmers, employees, retired officers—people who find themselves nicely conscious of the professionals and cons of the general administration—needs to be introduced in to make new plans, and their implementation needs to be a precedence.

Is there any authorities initiative to make sugar mills worthwhile?

No, the federal government has not but taken steps to treatment the present state of affairs. Our economic system will profit from funding into this sector. Lots of people will likely be employed, and our farmers will likely be benefitted. This has been beneficial repeatedly, however to no avail.

Sugar Worldwide, a consortium of three corporations from the UAE, Japan and Thailand, has proposed to take a position Tk 5,500 crore into our state-owned sugar mills to make them worthwhile. Will this work?

There’s a hearsay that the Japan Financial institution for Worldwide Cooperation and Thailand’s Exim Financial institution will present 70 p.c of the consortium’s funds as a mortgage. If this initiative is applied, after which fails, the consortium and the BSFIC should shoulder the burden. In the event that they fail, the guarantors should repay the mortgage. It’s nonetheless not sure which banks will likely be guarantors and which properties of the sugar mills will go below mortgage on this initiative. If it fails, the sugar mills could must promote their land to repay the debt. Businessmen could procure mentioned land at discounted charges. Alternatively, if the overseas buyers need to make a fast revenue, they may improve the value of sugar. We should always do one thing on our personal as a substitute of looking for outdoors assist. The federal government should subsidise this sector to enhance its situation, which is able to lower our import dependency. It’s going to additionally forestall sacrificing public property for debt service.


Translated by Mohammed Ishtiaque Khan.

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