LAHORE-The sugar has disappeared from the retail market in the aftermath of the government crackdown against the hoarders as majority of the shopkeepers are not interested to sell the commodity in the City. The government has miserably failed to provide the essential kitchen item to the public at reasonable price and has instead created a panic among the retailers who are not ready to sell it now even at inflated rates due to fear of crackdown. The shopkeepers said that sugar was being sold in Akbari Mandi for Rs 52 per kg and if transportation cost is included it will cost them Rs 53 per kg so how can they sell it for Rs 40 per kg as govt has announced in the newspapers. They said they could sell it not less than for Rs 54 per kg at retail level. Shortage of sugar was also visible at the utility stores where long queues and a rush of people, who were in search of the commodity, was seen. Most of the utility stores were short of the stock and which had some stock were offering just two kg to one person after registering his or her national ID card number in the register. People reported that in some posh localities sugar was available at super stores but at a very high price of upto Rs 60 per kg. But majority of the retailers have now refused to sell the merchandise as they hope that its rate will come down sharply. They said that they get very limited stock from the wholesale market and sell it as they fear the price of the commodity will decline and in that case will have to bear the loss. Most of the shopkeepers have refused to sell it to avoid raids and arrests. Same is the case with the wholesale market of the City where there was no business of sugar. Haji Sadiq, President Mozang shopkeepers Association said, that the shopkeepers are terrified and the business has come to a halt as most of the shops remain closed due to the crackdown. He that said that govt instead of arresting the wholesalers is arresting the retailers which is unjustified. The shoppers said that like every year, the price of sugar has surged from 10 to 35 per cent compared to last month ahead of holy month of Ramazan. This hike in prices of edible items could be seen just in Sub-Continent region ,otherwise, prices of these kitchen items remained unchanged for decades even in Gulf states while in West, prices of all daily use items cut to even more than half especially on national days like Easter, they added. Sheikh Muhammad Altaf, sugar wholesaler and stockist, was of the view that last week mill rate of sugar remained Rs 5,050 per 40 kg which was being sold in the market at the rate of Rs 5,090 per 40 kg. The current week witnessed further scramble in the prices of sugar with the reports that Federal govt would import white sugar to maintain the prices of sugar in Ramazan. Earlier, a report revealed that Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has floated a tender for the sale of 15,000 metric tonnes of imported sugar in the 'open market to ease domestic prices but now govt has stopped TCP for its open market auction. In a bid to cope with the artificial shortage of sugar and stabilise prices, TCP has decided to provide 15,000 metric tonnes sugar to Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan in addition to its normal quota of 70,000 metric tonnes. TCP has cancelled the tender of selling sugar in the open market at Rs 45 per kg and decided to supply it to USC at Rs 38 per kg. It is to be noted that TCP has floated another international tender for the import of 75,000 metric tonnes of refined sugar. A TCP official said that the tender would be opened on August 29, 2009. USC has over 5000 outlets and mobile units all over Pakistan and they will be able to provide sugar to the consumers at governments prescribed rate. All these steps have been taken after national newspapers disclosed mismanagement and embezzlement in sugar trade by sugar cartel. Now the price of sugar in retail market went up by over Rs 2-4 per kg to Rs 51-53 while it is being sold at over Rs 56 per kg in posh areas of the City.