ISLAMABAD: Pakistan exported a significant quantity of 215,752 tonnes of sugar during the February-June period of the outgoing FY23 against zero foreign sales in the comparable period the preceding year, causing a surge in domestic retail prices of the sweetener, showed data compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The sugar industry had been demanding permission for the export of surplus volumes since March 2022 when the price was in the range of Rs80-85 per kg, but the PMLN-led coalition government allowed it in February this year.

The decision was made in response to the demands of coalition partners, particularly the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

A total of 42,434 tonnes of sugar was exported alone in February, marking the beginning of this new trend. The following month, the volume tripled to 129,746 tonnes. The exports remained robust with a total of 40,716 tonnes in April. It started slowing down to 1,893 tonnes in May and then to 963 tonnes in June.

Due to the excessive exports, the average retail price of sugar has skyrocketed to Rs150 per kg and there are expectations of further increases in the upcoming months.

The mill owners, especially from political families in the PDM government, earned Rs29.104bn ($104.516m) through export in February-June 2022-23 at the cost of consumers who were left with no option but to procure the commodity at almost double prices what were prevailing before the government decided to allow foreign sales of sugar.

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

Sugar imports plunged by 98.01pc to 6,205 tonnes in FY23 against 312,477 tonnes in FY22.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2023

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