ISLAMABAD: The Network for Consumer Protection is deeply concerned at dramatic increase in sugar price and believes sugar barons having clout in the government have created an artificial shortage of sweetener in the country.
Sugar price surged to all-time high at Rs120 per kg in a week from its price at Rs85 per kg on 31st of October, proving that the government has miserably failed to keep check on food prices and provide relief to consumers. Media reports say that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) releases 10,000 tons of sugar per week against the daily demand of this quantity of sugar.
TheNetwork demands that the government order a probe to confirm as to who is responsibly for criminal delay in sugar import, which gave a chance to sugar mill owners to sell the commodity at unprecedented high price. TheNetwork for Consumer Protection rejects, on behalf of consumers all over the country, the statement of the Pakistan Sugar Mill Association that damage to sugarcane crop in recent floods was main cause of surge in sugar price.
Such excuses have been used in the past. While this may be partly true, the real reason has been collusive price-fixing behaviors which has been highlighted by the Competitive Commission of Pakistan (CCP).
TheNetwork believes that if sugar tycoons and the governments departments concerned had taken measures to import sugar in time, the commodity would have been available in the market at not more that Rs70 per kg.
TheNetwork wonders as to why no policy statement has been given on the current artificial sugar crisis, and even the main opposition parties are not properly developing any pressure on the government to keep the price of sweetener under control.
TN executive coordinator Dr Arif Azad said there are structural roots of the problem which reside in the sugar lobby’s overwhelming political clout in determining sugar output, timing of the import and scaremongering about rises in sugar price.
“For the sake of protecting consumers from the artificially inflated sugar price rises, the government has to bring in regulatory measures to rein in the untrammelled power of sugar lobby,” he added.