ISLAMABAD - Sugar prices are continuously increasing in the country as the government and sugar millers are holding each other responsible for the current hike in commodity prices.

Sugar prices have now reached to Rs60 per kg from Rs49 per kg of few weeks before. “The prices are increasing as millers are not supplying sugar in the market, as they want subsidy on exporting the commodity,” said an official of the commerce ministry. He further said that the Ministry of Industries and Production last week has written a letters to the chief secretaries of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for taking steps to stop hoarding in the provinces.

However, prices could not come down. “Ministry of commerce is likely to convene an inter-ministerial committee in next few days to review the sugar crisis,” said the official on the condition of anonymity. On the other hand, Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) blamed federal government for the current sugar crisis. “The government could have earn $1 billion foreign exchange by exporting sugar few months back when PSMA asked to export the commodity,” said PSMA vice chairman Iskandar Khan while talking to The Nation. He further said that sugarcane crushing season would not start by October this year due to the current situation.

Another PSMA representative said that the country has abundant sugar stock. The country has production of 6.986 million tons of sugar which is far in excess of domestic requirement of about 5.1 million tons. However, the prices are increasing only due to the government’s policies, he added.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has also taken notice of increasing sugar prices in the country. However, the prices are still increasing instead of controlling.

It is pertinent to mention here that sugar prices had started increase after Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet gave approval to export 0.3 million tons of sugar last month. In June 2017, an inter-ministerial committee headed by then commerce minister Khurram Dastgir had recommended the ECC to allow further 0.6 million tons exports without giving any subsidy to the exporters. In view of abundant surplus sugar stocks available in the country, the committee recommended to the ECC an export of 0.6 MMT of sugar, in addition to the 0.425 MMT already allowed for export, subject to the condition that the price stability in the domestic market is maintained. In case of any abnormal increase in the domestic price of sugar, the committee would recommend to the ECC the stoppage of further exports. Once 0.45 MMT out of the allowed quantity of 0.6 MMT is exported, the inter-ministerial committee will meet again to review the stock/export situation and recommend enhancement of export quantities, if deemed appropriate.