ISLAMABAD - PM-constituted inter-ministerial committee on Thursday failed to come up with a strategy to control sugar prices which started increasing after the government allowed wealthy sugar industry to export commodity.

Sugar prices have gone beyond Rs63 per kg in the country from Rs53 per kg after incumbent government allowed exporting sugar keeping in view its surplus quantity. The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) in December 2015 had allowed export of 500,000 tonnes of sugar. The ECC on that time had rejected Ministry of Industries and Production’s summary to provide surplus sugar to poor population through Utility Stores Corporation instead of exporting it. Rather, the top economic decisions making body of the country benefited sugar industry, which resulted in massive increase in commodity price in the country.

A high level committee, headed by the Minister for Commerce Engr Khurram Dastgir Khan, yesterday did not recommend measures to curtail skyrocketing sugar price in the wholesale and retail markets.

The committee, however, expressed concern over unwarranted increase in price of sugar in the domestic market despite a downward trend in international sugar prices and availability of sufficient domestic stocks.

The inter-ministerial committee in its first meeting held in January had decided to recommend discontinuation of sugar export if the prices in domestic market increased by more than 10 per cent. The Committee, in its second meeting, was informed that the retail price of sugar in domestic market has increased from Rs 57.20 per kg on 10th December 2015 to Rs. 62.07 per kg. As the price increase is less than 10 percent, the threshold to discontinue the permission for export has not yet been crossed. However, as there are sufficient surplus stocks in the country and international sugar prices are declining, the current price increase was inexplicable. With more production of sugar coming in the channel, prices should go back to the previous levels during the coming days.

The minister tasked the committee to carefully monitor the domestic prices and stock position of sugar to avoid any speculation and abnormal changes in the market, particularly in the run-up to and during Ramadan.

Speaking at the occasion, Minister for Commerce stated that while formulating pro-export policies, the government would safeguard the interests of all stakeholders especially the consumers and farmers.

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet while allowing export of 500,000 tonnes surplus stock of sugar had tasked an inter-ministerial committee on sugar constituted by the Prime Minister to review every month the sugar stock/export situation. The second monthly meeting of the Committee, chaired by the minister, was attended by Secretary Commerce, Secretary Industries & Production, Additional Secretary Finance and representative of Ministry of National Food Security and Research. The meeting was informed that 21,133 MT of sugar has been exported since the ECC extended permission to export sugar in December last year.

Secretary Industries informed that a stock of 2.25 million metric tons of sugar is currently available in the country and the crushing season will continue till mid-April further adding to the available domestic stock. Therefore, there was abundant stock of sugar available in the country whereas monthly consumption is 0.4 million metric tonnes.