ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday congratulated his financial team for bringing down the sugar prices “through a multi-pronged strategy”.
- Sugar prices down by Rs30 per kg
- The commodity is being sold at a retail price of Rs78 in Karachi
- Sugar price won’t go as low as last year, trader says
Taking to Twitter, the premier noted that the commodity was selling at a national average of Rs81 per kilogram this month compared to Rs102 per kilogram last month.
“I want to congratulate my team for bringing the sugar prices down through a multi-pronged strategy.”
MashaAllah Sugar is selling at a national average of Rs 81 per kg vs Rs102 per kg a month back. I want to congratulate my team for bringing the sugar prices down through a multi pronged strategy.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 12, 2020
Members of the prime minister’s team including Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar and Federal Minister for Industries and Productions Hammad Azhar also hailed the PTI government’s efforts to bring down the price.
“The ex-mill and retail rates of sugar are down by approximately Rs30 per kg in the last one month,” wrote Hammad Azhar. “Competitive sugar import by [the] government, its supply at control rates, and timely start of mills crushing season provided relief to both consumers and farmers.”
Umar said when an attempt is made to change a corrupt system then those benefitting from it tend to resist but if the government is courageous then it succeeds in the end.
Not as low as last year
Meanwhile, Karachi Grocers Association general-secretary Fariq Qureshi said the sugar prices have gone down with the beginning of the crushing season and import of the commodity.
Qureshi said the commodity was being sold at Rs72 in the wholesale market and Rs78 in retail across Karachi. “The prices went from Rs52 to Rs102 and now it is coming down,” he said.
The general secretary said during last year’s crushing season the wholesale price was Rs50 and retail was Rs52. He added that it was unlikely the price would go as low as last year.
The sugar crisis
In October, Hammad Azhar had pinned the blame of the country’s sugar crisis on the sugar mills association, insisting that their incorrect data caused a steep hike in prices of the commodity.
Speaking on Geo News’ Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Ke Saath, Azhar said the federal government was informed of a 300,000 tonnes surplus by the association in a meeting on May 11. “I was told we might even have to export it.”
The situation, however, took a 180 degree turn when the sugar commission report issued a month later hinted at a shortage and recommended a physical verification of the stock. “We conducted physical verification in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and still waiting for the Sindh government to do so.”
Azhar said the government found the demand increased by two-three times in Punjab. “Obviously, either they were showing us fake receipts or hoarding sugar,” he continued. “This created impression of a shortage that led to a hike in sugar prices.”
When questioned by host Shahzeb Khanzada on the government’s delayed decision to import sugar, Azhar said the commission report had only “hinted” at a shortage. “We cannot just start buying and importing sugar when the sugar mills association was insisting they had a surplus.”
“After the physical verification, that 300,000-tonne surplus changed into a 300,000 tonnes shortage,” he admitted. “At this point, the government decided to import sugar.”
Khanzada pointed out that the commission report estimated consumption at 5.2 million and projected an 8.66% decrease in production. “Even Jahangir Khan Tareen warned the government of a sugar crisis and recommended import,” he added.
Azhar insisted that the Centre took prompt actions. “We held sugar advisory board’s meeting which was attended by provinces, association, and other relevant authorities. It took us about 3-4 weeks to resolve the issue.”
He said the government decided to import sugar as soon as the data was available.