THE reason sugar prices have proved resistant even to court intervention is explained by the market price allowing millers extraordinary profits. Because they are excessively represented in Parliament, and other assemblies, on both Treasury and opposition benches, they can get away with providing it at an excessive price. According to a report in this newspaper, Farmers Vision of Pakistan President Khwaja Shoaib has pointed that the gap between production costs (Rs 45 per kg) and open market price (Rs 70) makes it a golden time to mint money. Mr Shoaib explains that farmers are not paid more than Rs 150 per maund. With 1 kg of sugar coming from 4 kg of cane, the cost of sugar is thus Rs 37 per kg, and when Rs 2.50 conversion cost, Rs 3 GST and Rs 2 miscellaneous costs are added, the ex-mill price comes to Rs 44.50. However, it is selling in the market at Rs 70 per kg, which is excessive, even if the profit margins of various middlemen are included. The calculation, combined with the actual price, shows the complete failure of all governments to tame the millers, who because of this alone are engaged in profiteering on a vast scale. However, the story goes on, and there are other factors keeping the price of sugar so high. According to Agriculture Ministry sources, smuggling to other countries is also rife, and if it was stopped, the price would come down. Because of the prices, it has become worthwhile for some to connive with utility store employees to buy from them cheaper and resell at the higher rate. Regional prices are also higher, making smuggling worthwhile, with sugar costing Rs 85-90 per kg in India and Iran, and Rs 100 per kg in Afghanistan. It has thus been confirmed that the high prices of sugar are only to be ascribed to millers flexing their political muscle. The federal and provincial governments may depend on the millers for their survival. However, they should prevent the millers from making excess profits, and ensure that the ordinary citizen is able to buy sugar at a reasonable price. Otherwise they will be punished at the next election.