LAHORE-The sugar scarcity has further deepened across Punjab, as the millers are still reluctant to restore supply of the commodity in the open market while the sugar stocks have almost exhausted in the retail markets. Despite the fact that the Punjab govt allowed the wholesale dealers to sell sugar at Rs 46 per-kg in the open market to avoid shortage of the commodity till the final decision to be taken by Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani regarding price dispute, shopkeepers were reluctant to purchase the commodity from the wholesale market on Tuesday. 'We are waiting for the retailers in the Akbari Mandi, Citys leading wholesale market, but there is no buyer here. Shopkeepers and retailers have stopped sugar business as uncertainty has gripped the local market after the court verdict, Ahmed Khan a wholesale sugar dealer said. He further said that the sugar mills have not restored proper supply to the market so far owing to price dispute while the retailers have stopped the sale of the commodity. The supply situation is worsening with every passing day, he maintained. 'The dealers are selling sugar at Rs 46 per-kg here at Akbari Mandi. The govt after some understanding allowed the dealers to continue sale of sugar at the old rate, Asghar Butt President Lahore Sugar Dealers Association said, when contacted. He further said that they were expecting that the situation regarding the price dispute would be resolved within two days, as the millers would file petition before the Supreme Court against the Lahore High Courts verdict and the Prime Minister has also convened a meeting to resolve the price issue. The sugar has virtually disappeared from the open market after retailers stopped selling the commodity, fearing punitive action from the govt for not selling it at the price fixed by the court. Some dealers were of the view that the sugar stocks have almost exhausted after the mills had suspended supply to Akbari Mandi, owing to the price dispute and the adequate supply has not been restored yet. 'The available stocks in the market have almost exhausted while the cut in supply-line is aggravating the situation, Muhammad Rafique, another dealer said. According to sources, the shopkeepers stopped sugar sale and the customers were witnessed leaving back without getting commodity from the shops in several parts of the City. However, some shopkeepers were selling the commodity at Rs 50 per kg. Interestingly, sugar also disappeared from most of the leading stores while some storeowners were witnessed selling the commodity only to their regular and familiar costumers at high price to avoid any govt action. According to the official sources, the Prime Minister has convened a meeting to fix equal price of sugar in all the four provinces after the Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif sought his prompt intervention to resolve confrontation between the millers and his govt over sugar price dispute. 'We hope that the issue of sugar price would be resolved during the meeting, he added. On Sunday, the millers demanded the Punjab govt to take the Prime Minister on board to resolve the issue. Earlier, the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) met the Punjab Cabinet Committee headed by Senior Adviser Sardar Zulifqar Ali Khan Khosa and assured that they would restore the sugar supply to the market at Rs 45 per kg ex-mill price. According to wholesale dealers, the millers are still reluctant to resume the supply, causing worst shortage of the commodity in the open market. On Saturday last, the PSMA straightforwardly refused to sell the commodity at Rs 36 per-kg and threatened that if the govt attempted to use coercive measures and arrest the mill owners as a lost resort, they would close down the mills for the next crushing season. On the other hand, heavy police contingents and Revenue Department officials are still on guard at the sugar mills across the province to keep a check on the movement of sugar and stocks stashed at the godowns within the mills premises. Market dealers said they could not sell the commodity at Rs 40 per kg in the wholesale market after purchasing it at Rs 45 per kg at the ex-mill price. 'We can leave the sugar business but cannot bear the loss of Rs 5 to Rs 6 for every kg, Ahmed Khan, a local sugar dealer told this reporter, when contacted.