Crackdown on smuggling stabilises sugar prices

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ISLAMABAD: With the caretaker government launching a massive crackdown and showing ‘zero-tolerance’ towards smuggling and hoarding of essential commodities, the price and availability of sugar are gradually becoming stable and normal.

As part of its strategy, the government plans to offer cash rewards to citizens who provide information leading to the identification of elements involved in smuggling and hoarding. A toll-free number has been established at the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Ministry of Interior for reporting such activities.

The federal and provincial governments have initiated operations in various cities, including Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Quetta, and Dera Ismail Khan, resulting in the seizure of illegally stocked sugar.

In Rawalpindi, the district administration conducted raids on different illegal warehouses, sealing 13 godowns and confiscating over 1,000 sugar bags weighing 50 kilograms. Five shops in Dalgaraan and Naswar Bazaars were also sealed for hoarding sugar.

Peshawar’s district administration recovered 311 tonnes of sugar bags from godowns on Daraband Road. In Quetta, local authorities recovered 250 tonnes of sugar and 750 tonnes of urea fertiliser on the outskirts of the provincial capital.

In Faisalabad, the district administration raided sugar storages to check for artificial shortages and black market sales. In Lahore, an agreement was reached between the Punjab government and sugar mill owners to sell the commodity at Rs140 per kilogram.

In Dera Ismail Khan, local administration raids resulted in the recovery of 5,000 bags of sugar from marked godowns. Another raid led to the seizure of 650 bags of hoarded sugar from the Maryali superstore. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) stated that sufficient stocks of sugar were available at controlled prices across the country. Sugar was being sold at Rs147 per kg for general customers and at Rs101 per kg for customers registered under the Benazir Income Support Programme.

Farmers oppose sugar purchase at high rate

Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) has expressed shock over the Punjab government’s procurement of sugar at a significantly higher price of Rs140 per kg from mill owners.

PKI President Khalid Mahmood Khokhar, in a statement on Monday, said that the federal government evaluated and notified the retail sugar price at Rs98.82 per kg for the current marketing season while the minimum sugarcane purchase price was set at Rs300 per 40 kg for the previous crop.

He was astonished by the Punjab government’s move that allowed mill owners to increase sugar price by over 40% and termed it an arbitrary step. He also referred to the caretaker Punjab chief minister’s statement that sugar would be sold at a concessionary rate in Sunday and model bazaars.

Speaking to a delegation of sugar millers on Sunday, the chief minister said mill owners would sell sugar to the provincial government at Rs140 per kg and the sale of the sweetener would benefit the people of the province.

The PKI leader argued that farmers were justified to demand over 40% higher sugarcane dues on similar lines for the previous crop, when mills were permitted to sell sugar at a considerably higher price. “Farmers have the right to demand compensation for the low price of sugarcane.” APP (with additional input from our correspondent)

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