Sugar prices touch Rs 90 per kg


LAHORE: The price of white refined sugar has touched its highest point ever and is currently being sold for Rs 90-92 per kilogram in local retail markets. Sugar dealers blame mill owners are responsible for the sugar price hike, while Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) claims that sugar price is escalating mainly due to poor government policies.
Sugar price data indicates that the price of sweetener has increased by Rs 9.5 per kilogram since October 1st; an increase of around 12.33 percent in the course of a single month.
The price of white refined sugar was recorded at Rs 86 in ex-mill, Rs 86.50 in wholesale and Rs 90-92 in retail level on Tuesday. A 50-kilogram sugar bag was selling at Rs 4,325 in the largest wholesale market of the province, Akbari Market.
Speaking to the Pakistan Today, Lahore Sugar Dealers Association (LSDA) President Asghar Butt said that price of the sweetener had been rising by one or two rupees everyday; but there had been no action on part of the government.
He was of the view that sugar millers were operating like cartel to swell the sweetener price. “The government machinery seems powerless in the face of the power wielded by sugar millers, as it has failed to start crushing in Punjab yet, he added.
Ashgar Butt declared that, according to the law, sugar mills were bound to commence sugarcane crushing by mid-October in Sindh and in the first week of November in Punjab.
But it is rumoured that there was no chance to start crushing season, at least in Punjab, before Eid-ul-Azha and this would certainly, have an adverse impact on sugar prices in local markets, he added. However, PSMA Chairman Javed Kayani holds diametrically opposing views on the subject.
He said that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) and federal government were responsible for the price hike. He revealed that sugar industry had already informed the federal government, that there would be a shortfall of 1.2 million tonnes of sugar, earlier in the year.
He underlined that the PSMA informed the government and TCP in October that sugar mills would not have sufficient sugar stocks in November, but the government did not heed its warning.
He indicated that the PSMA asked the TCP to import sufficient raw sugar stocks to meet the shortage, but TCP was able to import only 0.4 million tonnes of sugar.
Kayani said that sugar mills had 0.207 million tonnes in sugar stocks as of September 30th, while domestic consumption was around 0.325 million tonnes per month. He said sugar mills were left with no sugar stocks, and added it was TCP’s responsibilities to maintain strategic sugar reserves to deal with such situation.
Responding to a query, he said it was a wrong impression that sugarcane crushing was being deliberately delayed. He said that millers were ready to start crushing in the second week of November, but due to Eid-ul-Azha holidays, labour was simply unavailable.
Kisan Board Secretary Information Haji Ramazan indicated his belief that most sugar mills were owned by politicians and their family members, so the government was a silent spectator to the crisis.
Punjab Cane Commissioner was custodian of the Punjab Sugarcane (regulation of purchase and supply) Act and it was his duty to start crushing on time and to protect the rights of farmer, but he had failed to perform his duty However, Punjab Cane Commissioner was not available to comment on the story, despite repeated attempts on the part of this scribe.