ISLAMABAD: Pakis­tan exported 172,180 tonnes of sugar in February-March against zero foreign sales in the same period last year, which triggered a surge in domestic retail prices.

The PMLN-led government allowed the export of sugar from February on the demands of all coalition partners, especially the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

After exporting 42,434 tonnes of the sweetener in February, the quantity exported tripled to 129,746 tonnes in March. The figure for April was yet to be released by the Federal Board of Revenue.

As a result of this reckless export in large quantities, the average retail price of sugar surged to Rs130 per kg in April and it is expected it would rise further in coming months.

The highest retail price of Rs135 per kg was recorded in Karachi, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

Its average price in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Quetta stood at Rs130, while in Gujranwala, Multan, Bahawalpur, Sialkot, Larkana, Hyderabad it was Rs120. In Lahore sugar was selling at Rs125 and Rs116 in Sargodha and Sukkur.

Sugar is one of the food items which dragged the overall inflation to an unprecedented 35.4pc in March. This figure will go up further when the data for April would be released next week.

The cost of allowing export is much more for consumers as against the argument that it will generate foreign exchange for the country. The value of sugar exports stood at $83.052 million against no exports last year.

In rupee terms, the export value of sugar stood at Rs22.987 billion in two months for the mill owners, especially from political families in the PDM government.

According to a commerce ministry report, the net sugar consumption stood at over 5 million tonnes. A Re1 increase per kg means over Rs5bn net transfer of resources from consumers.

At the same time, sugar imports plunged by 98.39pc to 5,010 tonnes during the first nine months of this fiscal year against 311,345 tonnes in the same period last year.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2023

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