LAHORE - Despite tall claims by the Punjab government to ensure the sale of sugar at Rs 40 per-kg, sugar is not available in the retail markets across the Punjab, particularly here in the City. Dealers claimed that sugar supply situation is aggravating with every passing day while the government has badly failed to restore proper supply of the commodity in the wholesale market, creating worst shortage in the retail market. There is a big supply and demand gap. The consumers of sugar are going back with empty hands, as the shopkeepers have no sugar to sell for the last three days, Muhammad Aslam Rao President Lahore Kiryana Merchants Association said. He said there was no sugar trade in Akbari Mandi, Citys leading wholesale market - during the last four days. Therefore, the sugar stocks available at the retail stores have completely exhausted. No shopkeeper can sell sugar at Rs 40 per-kg in the retail unless he purchases the commodity at Rs 37 per-kg from the wholesale market, Aslam added. He said the government should immediately bridge the supply and demand gap by bringing ample sugar stocks in the market. I have visited five shops in search of a packet of sugar but in vain as the commodity is not available anywhere, Ihsan Ahmed a resident of Township said. He said the shopkeepers had stopped sugar selling, fearing government crackdown. The worst sugar scarcity in the province is also badly affecting the business of sugar by-products including sweets and bakes. Muhammad Ali from Faisal Town said he visited at least seven stores situated near his residence but failed to get even one kg sugar. Since the government has ordered the shopkeepers to sell sugar at Rs 40 per kg, there is no sugar for sale at any retail store, he maintained. He demanded the government to ensure supply and availability of the commodity in the market instead of taking credit of bringing sugar prices down to Rs 40 per kg. The government should take this issue seriously, ensure its availability and improve the supply situation, he added. The sugar supply at Akbari Mandi is not adequate. Shopkeepers and retailers are facing severe shortage of the commodity, Asghar Butt President Lahore Sugar Dealers Association said, when contacted. He said he had only 700 sugar bags of 50-kg on Thursday that were sold within no time in the wholesale market. The food department officials said they were lifting sugar stocks from the mills and throwing it in the open market through registered dealers to ensure its sale at Rs 40 per-kg. He further claimed all the district coordination officers and commissioners of the province had been directed to ensure sale of the commodity at Rs 40 per-kg and take strict action against those found involved in selling the commodity above the fixed price. The government has allocated sugar mills to each district of the Punjab to ensure uninterrupted supply of the commodity, he added. At least 20 sugar-loaded trucks from different mills arrived in Akbari Mandi wholesale market on Thursday. This is not sufficient. We need at least 100 sugar-loaded trucks every day to meet the supply and demand gap, another sugar dealer said. The district administration all over the Punjab has been directed to lift sugar stocks from their respective mills and sell it to the registered dealers to overcome shortage of the commodity. The district government has been directed to sell the lifted sugar stocks at Rs 36 per-kg ex-mill rate to the dealers to ensure its sale at Rs 40 per-kg in the open market. Meanwhile, DCO Lahore Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta has again claimed that sugar would be available in the open market in sufficient quantity at Rs 40 per-kg with the next 24-hours. He said this during his visit to wholesale market to review the available stocks of sugar. He further claimed that the issues with the sugar millers had been resolved amicably and sugar would available in all the retail stores as the supply is being improved. The commissioner Lahore has also directed the price control magistrates to keep the record of sugar trade from mills to dealers and the to shopkeepers.