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KARACHI: Muzzammil Aslam, Spokesperson to Finance Advisor Shaukat Tarin, said on Saturday that sugar is not a "federal government" subject, and its price, as well as, crushing schedule is decided by provinces, adding that Sindh has "defaulted on its obligation".

Addressing a press conference here at Karachi Press Club (KPC), he said that the Sindh government is responsible for the sugar crisis as it government has failed to initiate the sugar crushing, timely. He said that delay in sugar crushing has put pressure on the sugar demand and its prices throughout the country.

He said that sugar mills located in Sindh were required to start the crushing season from October 15, 2021. However, sugar crushing has been delayed and still not started in Sindh that has put pressure on the supply and demand of the commodity in the local market. Its impact has also been felt throughout the country.

He blamed the Sindh government for not taking the sugar stocks from the federal government at much cheaper rates than the prevailing rates of Rs150 per kg. "The federal government offered sugar supplies at lower rates to the Sindh government; however, they refused to take deliveries from the federal government for utility stores and Sasta bazaars." He said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has asked for supply of sugar, and it will now be getting it from the federal government. "Sindh has neither asked for the sugar stocks nor does it seem to want any help from the Centre," said Aslam.

"Similarly, the recent sugar price increase, driven by speculation, is also a provincial subject. It is the provincial authorities that should look out for these matters. Punjab has recently taken action on it. We have not seen any such action in Sindh." Aslam's remarks come amid the recent hike in the price of sugar that has added to inflationary pressure in the country.

The official informed that the federal government currently has around 130,000 tonnes of sugar stock available, which will cater supply needs of 22 days.

Meanwhile, Muzzammil Aslam said sugar mills in Sindh are still not operating, whereas in Punjab they will become operational by November 15, said Aslam.

"You (journalists) need to ask these questions. The sugar crisis will trickle down. If the farmers do not get paid on time, then the next crop would be affected as well."

The spokesman said that the sugar prices would stabilize in the next few years with the start of sugar production, adding that overall sugar production would be higher in this season compared to previous year as the country has a bumper sugarcane crop.

He further said that the sugar price is about Rs 140 to Rs 150 per kg in Karachi, while the Punjab government is supplying the essential commodity at Rs.85 per kg at utility stores and at Rs.90 at Sasta bazaars taking sugar stocks from the federal government.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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