The price of sugar has reached a criminal high at Rs160 per kilo as opposed to the government mandated fixed retail price of Rs89.75 per kilo. In Punjab, crackdowns on sugar mills have provided enough evidence to support the idea that the actions of many in the sugar industry were deliberate and accordingly, the government penalised them. However, a long-term solution must be devised as this is a recurring issue that we have not been able to resolve.
According to details reported by the authorities, huge stocks of hoarded sugar were recovered from different cities across Punjab—100 sacks from Lahore, 480 from Sargodha and 6757 metric tonnes from Rahim Yar Khan. Many sugar mill owners have been found guilty of delaying the production of new stocks despite the fact that they are bound by the sugar act to start crushing the sugar in the first week of November. These hoarding and delaying tactics have resulted in an artificial shortage across the country. In turn, this shortage drove up prices by as much as 50 percent, taking a toll on the public at large. For a basic commodity to be out of range for the majority of the population is unacceptable and it is good to see the government take some initiative to protect others from exploitation.
Outside of seizing sugar for the purposes of recovery and shutting down a mill or two, there has to be a plan created to ensure that the prices of sugar remain relatively stable for long periods of time. We have asserted pressure on the mafia before as well but it seems as though they persevere every time, at the expense of the population. Setting a stronger precedent by enforcing accountability, enacting strict surveillance policies and introducing laws that strictly prohibit such activity are a few steps that the government can take to ensure that the long-term aim of securing price stability is achieved.