The market price of sugar will remain Rs62 per kg this Ramazan as the provincial government will not provide any subsidy to the traders.
Muhammad Irfan Elahi, the Food Department secretary, told The Express Tribune that unlike last year the government had decided not to intervene in the sale and purchase of sugar in the open market.
He said that sugar will be available at Rs55 per kg at the Utility Stores.
Talking about the Ramazan Bazaars to be set up by the district administrations, he said, “There will be subsidies on six commodities, including wheat flour.”
The government has allocated Rs4.6 billion for the purpose, he said. “Rs4 billion will be spent on providing subsidised wheat flour at 400 Ramazan Bazaars across Punjab. A 20-kg flour bag currently at Rs425 available in market will be sold at Rs400 in these bazaars,” he added.
In order to meet the demand of sugar during Ramazan, the provincial government, has already placed purchase orders for 100,000 metric tons with the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP).
The traders will get the sugar at Rs56 per kg and sell it at Rs62 per kilogram in Ramazan bazaars, without any subsidy being paid by the government.
A Food Department official told The Express Tribune that the TCP had released 50,000 metric tons of sugar, of which around 7,500 metric tons had already been purchased by the traders. The remaining quantity, he maintained, would be transported to the province before the start of the holy month.
“The country is facing a shortfall of 1.2 million metric tons of sugar against its annual demand,” an Agriculture Department official said. He said that the TCP had yet to place purchase orders for 600,000 metric tons of sugar. Negotiations were underway for the procurement, he said.
The provincial government, in a bid to ensure sugar availability at cheap rates, spent Rs770 million last Ramazan.
These funds were provided to the district administrations that purchased 130,134 metric tons of sugar from the mills at Rs45 per kg and sold it in Ramazan bazaars at Rs40 per kg. About 123,375 metric tons sugar was sold during the month. In its annual budget, the provincial government allocated Rs21 billion this year, compared to Rs15 billion in 2009-10, for the provision of subsidy on food items and public utilities. Rs13 billion was earmarked for wheat subsidy, Rs5 billion for the Sasti Roti Scheme, Rs2 billion for other food items and Rs1 billion for public transport.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2010.