KARACHI: The federal government is expecting surplus sugar this year, but the situation in Sindh in terms of retail price of the commodity is unlikely to be changed as the provincial government of the Pakistan Peoples Party is delaying the sugar cane crushing only to discredit the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led set-up.
The forecast of the sugar cane crop and apprehension about a feared crisis in Sindh were shared by Muzammil Aslam, who is the spokesperson for Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin, at a news conference at the Karachi Press Club on Saturday.
He said that the current trend, data of agriculture ministries of the provinces and production models suggested that Pakistan was going to produce surplus sugar this year.
“Around 15,000 tonnes of sugar is consumed daily in the country — 6,000 tonnes at the household level and 9,000 tonnes at commercial level,” he said while explaining the sugar price and supply chain mechanism.
“Sugar cane crushing plans have already been announced in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the mills will continue to work from four to five months,” he said. “Traditionally and technically speaking, the crushing of sugar cane should start from Oct 15 in Sindh. But it’s unfortunate that the province has not started the process so far.”
He said that as sugar mills had already started sugar cane crushing in Punjab and KP, there would be no hiccups in supply of the commodity to the market that would ultimately keep the price stabilised.
When asked about inflated prices of sugar, mainly in cities, he said that it was not the federal government alone which affected the commodity rates and the role of every institution should be weighed before reaching any conclusion.
“We need to understand that there are actually four forces which affect the commodity prices one way or the other,” said Mr Aslam. “They are: Centre, province, dealers and market forces. If anyone fails to play its role that failure would ultimately affect the prices.”
He said the same was the example of Sindh where the provincial government was delaying sugar cane crushing season and making every move to destabilise the market. “I fear if this crushing season is further delayed and farmers are not paid timely, it would delay the sowing of the next crop [wheat] and after four months we would be crying over flour prices in Sindh.”
He said that the Punjab government had not only met the agricultural requirements for timely supply of fresh sugar production but it had also made administrative measures to cut down the prices at retail level and give relief to the consumers.
“They [Punjab government] are not only providing sugar at utility stores but have also set up Sasta Bazaars for that purpose where it’s available at the rate of Rs85 to Rs90 a kilo,” the spokesman said. “But what has the Sindh government done? I believe that politics should be separated from business and the people’s welfare. You should ask the Sindh government what it’s doing or question the chief [Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari] of the ruling party [PPP] here why they don’t they want the people to get relief.”
Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2021