Govt efforts to bring down sugar prices bite the dust

DCs directed to ensure availability of sweetener at Rs89.75 per kg


Our Correspondent September 26, 2021
The committee shall submit its report to the ECC for consideration with viable recommendations to make the process of import of sugar more transparent and efficient. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE:

In yet another bid to rein in sweetener prices, Punjab government has directed all deputy commissioners to ensure availability of white refined sugar at Rs89.75 per kilogramme across the province. Right now, refined sugar is being trader at over Rs104 in wholesale Rs110 in retail market in the provincial capital.

The directions were issued in a meeting jointly chaired by Provincial Minister for Industries and Commerce Mian Aslam Iqbal and Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal at the Civil Secretariat on Saturday.

The provincial minister expressed displeasure over the sale of essential commodities at exorbitant prices in cities and directed to rectify the situation as soon as possible. He stated that there is a question mark on the performance of the administration as it is failing to implement ‘its own notified prices’.

The performance would be visible only when prices are stabilised, he remarked.

He said the sale of sugar, wheat flour and other commodities at the exorbitant prices would not be tolerated and action would be taken against those responsible for negligence and carelessness. He also asked the officers to comply with the instructions on sealing shops over profiteering.

The chief secretary directed the deputy commissioners to carry out physical verification of the stock in the sugar mills. He also asked the administration and police to keep a close watch on the transportation of sugar to prevent its hoarding.

Read SC orders sugar mills to deposit cash

The main reason for instability in the prices of agricultural commodities was the poor market system. He ordered strict action against the officials of market committees involved in corruption and irregularities.

The chief secretary asserted that improvement in the supply chain system as well as administrative measures are needed for stability in prices.

He also issued instructions to display rate lists prominently at all the shops and take action in case of violation. The administrative secretaries of relevant departments, including industries, agriculture and food, PITB chairman, Lahore division commissioner and officers concerned attended the meeting while all the divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners participated through video link.

Meanwhile, reacting over the government’s decision to regulate sugar price in retail markets, a retailer, Arslan, pointed out that wholesale rate of sweetener is over Rs104 per kg in different areas of the provincial capital.

The government should control prices at wholesale level before launching crackdown against retailers. Retailers are ready to sell sugar at notified rates but the government should ensure availability of commodity at official rates otherwise such measures would prove waste of time.

Such actions would also create shortage in markets across the province.

Similar remarks were made several other traders and shopkeepers. They demanded the government rein in sugar millers, dealers and wholesalers to control sugar prices in open markets.

A sharp increase has been witnessed in the prices of sugar, ghee, and edible oil, amid high inflationary pressure and rise in demand while the government jas been struggling to control the prices of essentials.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2021.

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