By one estimate, the sugar mill owners have earned Rs 22 billion profit during the last two months. The millers sold their sugar to the dealers at higher rates and have delayed the cane crushing to clear their stock in defiance of the Supreme Court and the Lahore High Court orders. Despite claims of the provincial governments that they would implement the Supreme Court order of making sugar available at Rs 40 per kg, they have been able to do nothing. Now the Punjab government is claiming that it would make available more than double the sugar supplies it maintains at present. That means it would raise the current supply of 1800 tons per day to 4000 tons per day to end the prevailing shortage. I think the decision of the Supreme Court allowing 30 percent supply for domestic consumers and 70 percent for industrial sector at different prices provided the millers an opportunity to make a huge profit. As there is no monitoring mechanism available to the government to ensure supplies to industrial and domestic consumers according to an allocated percentage, the domestic consumers have been deprived of the sugar availability at the shops. Due to the delay in starting crushing seasons by Sugar Mills in Punjab from October 15 to November 15, the crisis has been aggravated further. Now that the government has increased the support price of sugarcane from Rs 80 to Rs 100 per maund, the sugar price from next season would be around Rs 60 per kg. The sugar cane was purchased by the sugar mills at an average price of Rs 120 per maund last season. I wonder how the government would ensure that growers are selling at its prescribed support price. It is not likely to happen. So up goes the sugar price in the next season too. The government should build up buffer stocks to plug the gap in supply and demand so that prices can be stabilized later. May be it should also allow the private sector to import sugar freely. It should not provide protection to sugar mills owners at the cost of the consumers. -ENGR. S. T. HUSSAIN, Lahore, November 10.