Sweetener turns sour amid high prices

Smuggling of sugar to Afghanistan has also contributed significantly to the increase in prices

​ Our Correspondents September 03, 2023



As the prices of electricity and petrol escalate, consumers are now faced with another blow as the price of sugar experiences an unabated rise, feeding the black market amid reports of smuggling and hoarding.

The continuous surge in the price of sugar has led to an increase in the prices of sweets, bakery items, and other sugar-based products by Rs200 per kg in several parts of the country.

In Rawalpindi, the sudden surge in sugar prices has caused prices to reach Rs190 per kg in the inner city and Rs195 per kg in the suburbs. In the wholesale market, a 50 kg bag of sugar has now climbed to Rs9050.

Sources said that despite the alarming increase, the 60 price control magistrates of Rawalpindi district appear to be powerless in regulating the soaring sugar prices. Furthermore, the supply of sugar in and around Rawalpindi city is also dwindling.

Read Sugar price increase blamed on smuggling

Salim Parvez Butt, president of the Central Grocery Merchant Association, expressed concern over the rising wholesale prices, stating that they are now selling sugar for Rs190 per kg and Rs9050 per bag to cover the costs of transportation, loading, and unloading.

There is a fear that retail prices may reach as high as Rs200.

"We cannot purchase expensive sugar and sell it at a cheaper rate," he argued.

The price of sugar is expected to rise even further next week when the new wholesale price is set on Monday, September 4.

In Peshawar, the price of sugar has already surged to Rs200 per kg, with a sack of sugar reaching a staggering price of Rs9,500. The price of sugar is increasing at an alarming rate, leaving consumers in a state of distress.

Traders involved in the sugar business, however, have managed to profit off of the old stock due to the continuous increase in prices. The black market for sugar has also begun to thrive.

Sources have revealed that big investors have started investing in sugar, as well as the dollar, due to the further increase in sugar prices. Traders have stockpiled millions of rupees worth of sugar in anticipation of even higher prices.

The smuggling of sugar to Afghanistan has also contributed significantly to the increase in prices.

Efforts by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to curb the hoarding and smuggling of sugar have proven to have little effect, with consumers bearing the brunt of these rising rates.

Frustration has been building among consumers, who feel let down by the current government as they not only face a Rs20 per litre increase in petroleum products but also witness the consistent depreciation of the rupee against the dollar.

Market traders suspect that large quantities of sugar are being smuggled to Afghanistan through informal channels, followed by hoarding and speculation. These rising prices come as a shock, given that the country's sugar stocks currently stand at 2.27 million tonnes.

During the fiscal year 23, Pakistan managed to export 215,751 tonnes of sugar, generating $104 million. However, there were no exports during the previous fiscal year. In July alone, exports amounted to 5,542 tonnes, earning $3.4 million, compared to zero exports in the same period last year.


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