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USC delays lifting of sugar despite delivery orders

Some 0.16 million tons of sugar of Utility Store Corporation (USC) has stockpiled with the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) since the USC slowed down lifting of the commodity, sources said. They told Business Recorder on Monday that USC has not lifted a single ton of sugar under the Delivery Orders (DOs) issued for February and March 2014.

There are several reasons for the delay, including strict monitoring of sugar sales by the USC management that has resulted in stoppage of leakage or sale of the commodity in open market. Secondly, there were some transportation issues, which have recently settled down.

"Some decline has also been observed in the stores' demand followed by strict monitoring of sugar supply and a minor difference in USC and open market sugar prices," they added. Mainly, on a monthly basis, TCP releases some 50,000 tons of sugar to USC. Although, TCP is issuing the Dos in time to avoid any shortage in the domestic market, lifting by USC is very slow.

During this fiscal year there is a massive difference between DOs and lifting of the commodity as since July 1, 2013, TCP issued DOs for a quantity of 470,000 tons in favour of USC, while it has lifted some 326,000 tons sugar during the period. Presently, overall some 166,000 tons of sugar stocks, lying in sugar mills, have not been lifted by the USC, despite getting DOs from TCP, sources said.

They said since July 2013, TCP is releasing some 50,000 tons of sugar to USC and released an additional supply of 50,000 during July-August 2013 to cater for the rising demand during Ramazan. Sources said the USC management is striving to control the leakage of the commodity through strict monitoring of goods and as part of these efforts, the lifting has slowed down. However, they said lifting is likely to pick up in coming days ahead of Ramazan in July this year.

USC lifts sugar as per demand and presently major lifting is being done from Northern region (Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), where sugar demand is higher than southern region (Sindh and Balochistan). For last five years, TCP has been procuring sugar from domestic sugar mills to maintain strategic reserves for local consumption. The procured sugar is mainly stored in sugar mills' godowns and USC directly lifts the commodity from designated mills specified by the TCP through DOs.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2014