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LAHORE: Sugar shortage continued to haunt the consumers in the provincial metropolis as either is it not available in the retail markets or available at higher rates.

Sugar wholesaler in Akbari Mandi said that they have received some supplies of sugar today though that too not according to the demand which has gone high because of the sacred month of Ramzaan.

Meanwhile, long queues of customers are seen at Ramazan bazaars also waiting to subsidized flour and sugar. The sweetener is being offered but only one kg per customer.

Naveed Shafiq, a retailer in Nawabpura area said that sugar was available but costlier than the official rates.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (Punjab Zone) in a statement issued here Thursday alleged that they and traders were facing harassment in the Punjab leading to disruption of the supply-line of sugar in the province.

The association said that the ex-mill price of Rs80 per kg is too low and the sugar mills are facing losses.

It claims that no buyers is coming forward to lift the commodity from their stocks for the last two months and this is resulting in liquidity crunch for the millers, who have to clear growers’ dues and banks and government’s liabilities.

It requests the Punjab chief minister to intervene and set the sugar price in accordance with Rs105 per kg cost of production of the sweetener to save the industry from bankruptcy.

Responding to the PSMA assertions, Cane Commissioner Muhammad Zaman Wattoo terms them utterly baseless and against the facts. “No harassment of any kind of sugar mills or the traders is being made in the Punjab as the government is lifting only 150,000 ton sugar from the millers as per Lahore High Court order to sell it at a subsidized rate of Rs65 per kg at Ramazan bazaars.”

He says that on reports speculative trade and artificially jacking up prices of sugar above Rs110 per kg in Ramazan, the FIA acted against the speculators and very compelling incriminating evidence was captured during this scoop.

The speculators had been evading hefty amounts of tax in addition to jacking up prices said a statement of the Cane Commissioner Punjab.

Keeping in view the massive tax evasion due to selling of sugar to unregistered brokers, dealers and benamidars, the Punjab government promulgated the Punjab Sugar (Supply Chain Management) Order 2021 and the Punjab Prevention of Speculation in Essential Commodities Ordinance, 2021, which make is mandatory to sell sugar only to registered brokers and dealers. This documentation of sugar industry cannot be termed as harassment, he argues.

He said that “law-abiding” traders have started getting themselves registered and so far more than 1000 brokers and dealers have been registered in the province.

The assertion that the sugar mills are facing loss due to ex-mill price of Rs80 per kg is also fallacious, Zaman Wattoo added.

“The sugar mills themselves filed average sale price of sugar of Rs67 with the tax authorities. If sales tax is added to this sale price, the ex-mill price comes to Rs78.39 per kg,” he says, adding the ex-mill price of Rs 80 per kg has been calculated using the data provided by the millers themselves.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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