ISLAMABAD: Despite importing 300,000 tons of sugar by utilising precious foreign exchange earnings, the government is unable to control the yawning prices of sweetener in the domestic market, mainly because of lack of coordination and mismanagement.
According to official records and background interviews of top officials, risks are increasing that the imported sugar in stocks might remain unutilised despite spending millions of dollars because there is a perception that it is of low quality and secondly the provincial governments are not selling sugar to major commercial outlets and just supplying it to Sasta Bazars.
On the other hand, the government has a list of those sugar millers who are earning lofty profits by using different excuses, including TLP Dharna, due to which the supply of sugar got choked. Just 10 to 11 days remain to the crushing season, so profiteering by sugar mills will touch new heights for the next two-week period.
The sugar price in different parts of the country has touched the highest-ever Rs140 per kg. Top official sources at the federal level blamed the provinces for escalating the sugar crisis in the domestic markets and said that profiteering by sugar mills continued but the provincial governments were not taking action. They said Punjab was not taking action due to court order, KP because no mills exist and Sindh is not interested due to political reasons.
Eleven sugar mills identified by the federal government were selling 100 kg sugar at higher prices. The Al-Abbass Mill at Mirpurkhas is selling sugar at Rs14,025 per 100 kg, Alliance Sugar Mill in Ghotki Rs14,000, Al Noor Mill in Moro at Rs14,025, Dherki Sugar Mills in Ghotki Rs14,000, Faran Sugar Mill at Tando Mohammad Khan at Rs14,025, Ghotki Sugar Mills in Ghotki at Rs14,000, Khairpur Sugar Mills in Khairpur at Rs14,000, Mehran Sugar Mills in Tando Allah Yar at Rs14,000 and Ranipur Sugar Mills at the price of Rs14,000 per 100 kg.
There are nine sugar mills in the Punjab which are selling sugar at higher rates. Adam Sugar Mills is selling in the area of Bahawalnagar at the price of Rs14,000 per 100 kg, Hajra Sugar Mills in Muzaffargarh at Rs14,000, JDW Sugar Mills in Rehim Yar Khan at Rs14,000 per 100 kg, Kamalyia Sugar Mills in the area of Toba Tek Singh at Rs14,500, Kanjwani Sugar Mills in Faisalabad Rs14,500, Rahim Yar Khan Sugar Mills in the same area Rs14,200, Salanwali Sugar Mills in Sargodha at Rs14,500, Shah Murad Sugar Mills in Mandi Bahauddin area at Rs14,025 and Shah Taj Sugar Mill in Mandi Bahauddin for Rs14,000 per 100 kg.
According to official data, the government has so far imported 300,000 tons of sugar mainly from the Khaleej Sugar Mill located in the UAE. Another 30,000 tons will be reaching the Karachi port on November 7, 2021. The Utility Stores Corporation (USC) has already lifted 130,000 tons and Punjab lifted 95,000 tons.
Sufficient stocks of sugar are available but fears are mounting that the stock might remain unutilized despite spending multi-million dollars, so the millers will be in a position to earn unjustified profiteering by selling their produced sugar at much higher prices in the range of Rs110 to Rs140 per kg in different parts of the country. There is also an increased perception that the quality of imported sugar is not up to the mark, so it increases the opportunity for profiteers to enhance their profits manifold. The government is simply clueless about how to manage this crisis-like situation before kick-starting of the crushing season from November 15, 2021.
The Ministry of Finance high-ups argued that the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) would take up the sugar issue in its next meeting and might decide to stop import of sugar for meeting domestic requirements in the current fiscal year.
Meanwhile, PMLN President and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif rejected the relief package announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying that like the promises and budget of the present government, the so-called relief package was also a bundle of lies.In his statement Thursday, he said: “Wasn’t it said in the budget that this is a tax-free budget? Now, in his address to the nation, it is being admitted that petrol will be more expensive. When petrol becomes more expensive the price of electricity and gas goes up, how can there be no inflation? To take seriously anything of a government, whose budget figures are unreliable, is nothing but self-deception.”
“The country is burdened with debt, IMF terms have badly affected the nation and the relief package is a joke. When the Prime Minister was announcing the relief package the prices of ghee and edible oil were increased by Rs 65 per litre at the utility store,” he maintained.
“The price of sugar in the wholesale market has crossed Rs 130 per kg and the nation does not trust the government for making false promises,” he added. Shehbaz said Imran Khan should have not addressed the nation after setting a historical record of inflation. “He should resign with the admission of his failure,” he asserted.
By declaring inflation a global problem, Imran Niazi’s government cannot hide its incompetence, wrong decisions and corruption, he said, adding that Nawaz Sharif had proved how the government works, bringing the growth rate to 5.8 per cent and the inflation rate to 3.6 per cent.
The PML-N president said when a government takes a loan of Rs 15,000 billion in three years, it hikes inflation and unemployment. “This government stabs the people in the neck and says, “We are giving relief”.
Shehbaz said that the government which promised to end the subsidy from IMF was now cheating the nation by announcing a false relief package of Rs 120 billion. “Where will this money come from? How much will it cost?” he questioned and concluded that the government should unveil the conditions agreed with the IMF.
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