According to a press report, the ministerial committee on sugar has decided to increase price of sugar from Rs. 45/kg to Rs.55/kg at the Utility Stores. The open market prices of sugar are already hovering around Rs. 70, rising sometimes to Rs 75/kg in some parts of the country. The substantial difference between prices in the open market and those at Utilities Stores are forcing people with low income to stand for hours under the sun and rain to save only about Rs. 15-20/kg. Complaints of abuse are rampant, some saying Utility Stores are fixing the hours to sell sugar or force consumers to purchase other items of inferior quality to get one kg of sugar. We are in this situation only because the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), connived with sugar barons so openly that it failed to import a single grain of sugar in April early this year when sugar prices in the international market were lowest in recent history. That, of course, brings one to the question of what is the system we have here, open market or state-control over commodities? Why cant the government have an open import policy for sugar, allowing private investors and traders to import sugar freely without any custom duties and taxes being imposed on this food item of daily use? Why is government protecting the interests of sugar barons who are sitting in the national and provincial assemblies? And why does the government, on pretext of protecting interests of the grower, keeps fixing the sugarcane price despite the fact that sugar mills owner openly claim they do not get sugarcane at the price fixed by government? The government should be playing the role of an honest regulator that allows private sector to manage the business of manufacturing and trading. -ENGR. S.T. HUSSAIN, Lahore, July 27.