Delay in crushing, sugar sale by TCP escalating prices


KARACHI: Delay in start of the sugarcane crushing season and hold up by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to sell sugar stocks have led to the unprecedented rise in the commodity’s retail price across the country.
Sugar mills in Sindh were supposed to start crushing season in October, while those in Punjab were to begin it in November. The TCP also did not off-load the 400,000 tonnes of sugar in time, providing an opportunity to market forces to exploit consumers and manipulate prices according to their wishes.
Kissan Board of Pakistan President Ibrahim Mughal pointed out the exploitation of the consumers while talking to Pakistan Today on Sunday. He said neither the mills in Sindh nor in Punjab had started sugarcane crushing, and the TCP too had played its part in the crisis by holding back its sugar reserves.
On Sunday, the retail price of sugar had climbed to 100 rupees per kilogramme in Karachi and Rs 105 to Rs 110 per kg in Quetta and other far-flung urban areas. Interestingly, the retail price of the commodity in the country is Rs 50 above the international price (about Rs 50/kg these days) and Rs 64 higher than the retail price in India, where the sweetener is being sold around 36 rupees/kg.
Mughal said the negligence of the government was leading to the exploitation of the consumers in the country. “Had the mills started crushing according to the law and the TCP had off-loaded stocks in the market in time, the retail price of the commodity would not have exceeded beyond Rs 70 a kg,” he argued.
He said the available sugar stocks of about 600,000 tonnes in the country negated the shortage of the commodity. About 400,000 tons of sugar is lying with the TCP, while mills and stockists have around 200,000 tonnes of stocks. The price of the white refined sugar has doubled across the country in the current calendar year. It rose from Rs 50 per kg to Rs 100 per kg in 2009 in most of the urban areas.
In remote urban areas, the price of the commodity has escalated to beyond Rs 100 per kg and rose to Rs 110 in Quetta and Peshawar. Mughal said the retail price of sugar should have been below 70 rupees per kg, adding that the propaganda of the commodity’s shortage in the country was baseless.