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KARACHI: The Large Taxpayers Office (LTO) in Karachi has successfully secured 1.9 million metric tons of sugar from hoarders in Sindh to meet the country’s sugar requirements for the next three months through effective monitoring and tracking of sugar movement from mills.

According to sources, the LTO deputed staff at 29 sugar mills across Sindh to keep strict vigilance on every sack being transported out. This monitoring under Section 40B of the Sales Tax Act 1990 allows authorities to post officers at registered premises to monitor production and sales.

Out of 29 mills, the LTO found 1.9 million metric tons stockpiled at 10 facilities - enough to meet three-month sugar needs at the current monthly consumption of six million metric tons.

Sources said this crackdown, initiated a month ago, forced sugar prices down from Rs. 230 per kg to Rs. 140 per kg. Furthermore, they said that officers at mills are monitoring loading of every truck, recording purchase invoices, mill, vehicle, and driver details in an online track-able system.

Meanwhile, authorities credit the strict monitoring of sugar stocks and transportation for curtailing the ability of mill owners to hoard and manipulate prices. At the same time, consumer groups welcomed the interventions for stabilising prices but cautioned that continued vigilance is needed.

Notably, this oversight of sugar movement from production to market has proven effective as in August 2023 the government considered importing 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar from Brazil to mitigate a crisis. But with this effective crackdown, the LTO secured 1.9 million metric tons stockpiled at 10 facilities, forcing down prices from Rs. 230 to Rs. 140 per kg and averting the need for imports.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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