It was recently reported on these pages that TCP has imported sugar from China @ $558 per tonne which roughly comes to Rs. 47 per kg. After adding freight and taxes, this could be sold at best at around Rs. 51 per kg in the wholesale market. It was hoped that with import of sugar at this rate, consumers, particularly in the month of Ramadan, will be able to get sugar at much cheaper rates as compared to market rate of Rs. 70.

It has now been reported by the Nation that consumers are being fleeced by design right under the nose of the government. The newspaper reports that despite the fact that sugar prices are constantly declining in the international market, helpless consumers in Pakistan are paying an additional amount of Rs 16 to Rs 20 on one kilogram sugar. According to official figures of the Ministry of Industries and Production, the landed cost of international sugar in Pakistan is around Rs 54 per kg along with General Sales Tax, while the consumers are paying around Rs 70 to Rs 75 for it. The sugar prices should be around Rs 57 per kg in the country, if transportation and other costs are added, sources in Ministry informed The Nation.

The crisis may further deepen in the holy month of Ramadan, the paper adds, and prices can further go up, if Provincial Governments did not take action against those sugar millers involved in hoarding and creating artificial shortage. The sources informed that sugar millers had been planning to create artificial sugar crisis in the country since March 2010. The sugar millers purchased commodity at high price of Rs 65 per kg from the international market with a view that its prices would further accelerate in July and August, however it did not happen as prices started declining and now they started to disappear the commodity from the market to exploit the consumers by earning more profit, the sources further disclosed. The Ministry sources believed that there was sufficient sugar stock available in the country, which was enough for the next three months (till October) and sugar shortage in the country was out of the question. Currently the sugar stock is 1.276 million tonnes in the country, which can fulfill demand of the next three months.

It is worth mentioning here that Ministerial Committee on Sugar has already decided to ask the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) that there is sufficient stock of sugar in the country and only sugar millers are creating artificial shortage and it is the responsibility of Provincial Governments to take action against them.