–Sugar price expected to reach Rs100 per kg unless govt curbs export of essential commodity
LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is facing yet another challenge of ensuring the provision of essential commodities to the common man on affordable prices after it emerged on Monday that a serious case of sugar shortage is looming over the country.
While a majority of Pakistanis is already stumbling amid a wheat crisis that has jacked up prices of bread to more than Rs12-15 a piece, sugar prices have shot up to as high as Rs64 a kilo during the incumbent government’s 15 months.
However, over the past week, the wholesale rate of sugar rose from Rs64 to Rs74 per kg and an acute shortage has surfaced in the country.
Last year, Pakistan produced 600,000 tonnes of sugar. Now, however, the wholesale rate of sugar is expected to reach Rs80 a kilo next week.
Further, if the government does with sugar what it did with fine wheat flour and does not halt exporting it, prices could reach up to Rs100 per kg in Pakistan, sources said.
During former military strongman General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, sugar prices had skyrocketed to Rs105 per kilo during the month of Ramzan.
It is noteworthy that Pakistan’s flour crisis has become acute, affecting major cities such as Karachi, Hyderabad, and Lahore and with prices shooting up to Rs70 a kilo in some areas.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the wheat price hike, ordering a grand operation against hoarders to overcome the crisis.
On Monday, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved the import of 0.3 million tonnes of wheat without regulatory duty, as criticism continued to mount on the federal government over the rising prices of essential commodities across Pakistan.
Chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, the committee allowed for wheat to be imported till March 31, with the first shipment due to arrive by February 15.
It has also asked the Punjab government and the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) to release wheat stocks in order to overcome a country-wide shortage.
A statement issued by the Finance Ministry said that Punjab and PASSCO have approximately 41 tonnes of wheat stocks available.
It is not yet clear from which country or countries Pakistan will be importing the wheat.