ISLAMABAD: With falling sugar prices in the world market, the government is considering floating an international tender for import of 50,000 tonnes of the sweetener to maintain its price within the official retail rate.
A meeting of the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) presided over by Minister for Finance, Revenue and Industries Hammad Azhar on Monday discussed the proposal.
Last week, the federal cabinet reversed a decision of the Economic Coordination Committee to allow the import of 0.5 million tonnes of white sugar from India via land route. The import of sugar through the land route is cheaper than via sea.
The ministry of industries will float the tender, but it depends on the quotation of price. Earlier tenders were cancelled because higher prices were quoted.
Provinces told to procure wheat in a timely manner
As per the current international price, the landed cost of sugar in Pakistan would be in the range of Rs70-80 per kg, which will be very close to the retail price of Rs85 per kg in Punjab. The sugar price at the outlets of the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) is Rs68 per kg.
The normal sale of sugar at the utility stores is 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes per month. The government has approved 50,000 tonnes of sugar for Ramazan.
An official announcement said Finance Minister Hammad Azhar sought details from the provincial food secretaries regarding sugar prices prevailing in respective markets and directed them to strictly monitor its prices (at retail level) to ensure steady supply and counter price disparity effectively.
The additional secretary of ministry of industries and production updated the NPMC about a slight decrease in international prices of sugar which will reduce the upward pressure on rates of the commodity in domestic markets.
Food Security Secretary Ghufran Memon briefed the committee about wheat stocks in the country. The meeting reviewed the overall position of release of wheat stocks by the respective provinces.
The finance minister directed the representatives of the provincial governments to take appropriate measures for keeping prices of the wheat flour in check. The NPMC urged the provinces to take all possible measures to ensure a smooth supply of wheat at fair prices across the board.
The representatives of all the four provinces briefed the finance minister about their wheat procurement plans.
Mr Hammad reviewed the plans and directed the provinces to procure wheat in a smooth and timely manner in coordination with all federal and provincial organisations.
The Punjab government updated the meeting about setting up of Ramazan/Sahulat Bazaars for providing essential commodities to people at subsidised rates during the holy month.
The committee directed the provincial governments to ensure provision of basic commodities at discounted prices through Ramazan/Sahulat Bazaars in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers in compliance with the directives of the prime minister.
The USC managing director briefed the committee about the measures being taken to ensure availability of basic items at subsidised prices under the “Ramazan Relief Package” through a chain of outlets across the country.
Mr Hammad directed the USC chief to ensure uninterrupted supply of basic commodities at Utility Stores outlets during Ramazan.
The NPMC reviewed the price trend of essential commodities, especially wheat flour, sugar, vegetable ghee, chicken and eggs during the last week.
Federal Minister for National Food Security Fakhar Imam, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue Dr Waqar Masood and federal secretaries of the relevant ministries attended the meeting.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2021