ISLAMABAD The country might face another sugar crisis in the next few weeks as the strong sugar mafia has started disappearing the commodity from the market in order to increase its prices by creating artificial shortage, market sources informed TheNation on Sunday. Likewise, the stocks of domestic sugar are going to exhaust by the end of August 2010 and depleting private sector local stock without corresponding build-up of the government stocks is likely to create sugar scarcity in the market. According to the sources, since the commoditys price is on the rise in the international market, domestic sugar manufactures are planning to exploit the helpless consumers by charging high prices. It is worth mentioning here that sugar price in international market has increased to $660 per tonne, which gives an opportunity to the manufacturers to increase its prices in the country. It is interesting to note here that when sugar prices were decreased in international market, the benefit was not passed on to the consumers as they were paying high prices for the commodity. The sugar prices are already enhanced to Rs65 per kg from Rs60 per kg in last few days and market sources believed that it would go up to Rs70 per kg in coming days. Sources were of the view that it was feared that the crises might deepen in the holy month of Ramazan. The manufacturers have stopped the supply of white sugar from April 2010 as the Trading Corporation of Pakistan and local traders have refused to purchase expensive sugar from them. As the cost of sugar at Karachi Port reached Rs70 per kg, industrial importers stopped purchasing the commodity. However, representatives of sugar mills said as the international market witnessed recovery, the price of the commodity went up around the globe, including Pakistan, he said, adding that the millers purchased sugarcane at Rs270 per 40-kg for crushing season 2009-10, which increased the ex-mill price manifolds. When contacted an official of Ministry of Industries and Production said, The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had already rejected the proposals to increase GST to 16 per cent from 8 per cent in order to keep its prices down in the country. He was of the view that the government would not allow the manufacturers to exploit the consumers and in this regard every possible step would be taken with consultations of provinces, he added. On the other hand, the stocks of domestic sugar are going to exhaust by the end of August 2010. Documents available with TheNation reveal that sugar production for the current year is projected to be 3.1 million MT by Ministry of Industries and Production. With a total carryover stock of 41,677 (MT) from last year the total available stock would be 3.14 Millions Metric Ton (MT). Again, the average monthly consumption is estimated at 350,000MT or 4.2 MT per year. So the estimated shortfall is worked out to be 1.2 MMT. Similarly, the current available stock of sugar other than Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) as of June 4, 2010 is 1.75 MMT or equivalent to five moths of consumption. Likewise, the ECC also detected the need to determine actual production of sugar and its stock position during the current year. Moreover, sources in the Ministry of Industries and Production also confirmed that the Chairman Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet had constituted a committee to review the sugar stock situation. The committee met on April 22 and May 13, 2010 to discuss the issue and resolved that Ministry of Industries & Production in consultation with Ministry of Food & Agriculture would establish the demand and supply position of sugar and shortfall for the remaining period of the season. Moreover, TCP would provide the current stock position and anticipated shipments of the imported sugar. Similarly, it has been learned that as the crisis is heading on, the ECC of the Cabinet on June 8, directed to continue import of 1.2 million MT white sugar by TCP through tendering process. So TCP has been assigned the task of importing 1.2 MMT. Furthermore, TCP has also contracted 825,000 MT and opened Letters of Credit (LCs) for 575,000 MT following the decision of ECC and out of which 100,548 MT are now in godowns while the remaining quantity of sugar is expected to reach on Pakistani ports in June and by mid August 2010. It is therefore imperative that the government should have sufficient stock in hand, latest by July 2010.