Karachi: Sugar prices reached record highs in various parts of the country on Monday, as blame continued to be traded among members of the former ruling coalition regarding the country’s diminishing sugar stocks, reported Dawn.
Growers hold the recently dissolved PDM government responsible for its failure to curb smuggling, which they claim led to the export of almost a million metric tonnes of sugar across the border over the past year.
In specific regions, the price of sugar surged: it was selling for Rs 230 per kilogram in Balochistan’s Chaman area, and shops in the central Punjab town of Arifwala charged Rs 185/kg, as reported by PPI. In Karachi, the wholesale price of sugar fell by Rs 2 to Rs 176 per kg, but the retail price remained Rs 190 per kg.
The caretaker government expressed alarm over depleting sugar stocks after a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Caretaker Cabinet was told that only 2.27 million tonnes were available in the country. Rising sugarcane prices and court orders were also seen as being behind the rising price of sugar.
The issue has also become a sticking point between former coalition partners, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), with a senator accusing the former interior minister of facilitating sugar smuggling.
Senator Taj Haider of the PPP claimed that “Honourable Rana Sanaullah allowed 1.4 million tons sugar to be smuggled” and lamented how ex-planning minister Ahsan Iqbal had held his former cabinet colleague Naveed Qamar responsible for the crisis.
The issue came to the forefront when Mr. Iqbal stated on Geo News that Mr. Qamar should be questioned about the export of sugar in previous months and that he would be better placed to provide information on the country’s sugar stocks when his ministry approved its export.
Growers, however, are not convinced by either side’s arguments and blame all members of the past government for the current crisis. Sardar Yaqoob Sindhu of the Anjuman-i-Tahaffuz-i-Kashtkaranaran stated that sugar smuggling began almost exactly a year ago and was ignored by the government.
He pointed out that a 100-kg bag of sugar cost Rs8,400 in August 2022 and now sells for Rs17,000 to Rs18,000. According to him, around 700,000 metric tonnes of sugar have already been smuggled into Afghanistan, with an additional 300,000 to 400,000 metric tonnes stored in warehouses along the border.