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Punjab govt bid to control sugar price

In a bid to control the rising prices of sugar, the Punjab government promulgated an order late on Friday evening, authorising the cane commissioner and deputy commissioners to regulate trade of the commodity, from fixing the rate to storage, transport and distribution of the sweetener.

The Punjab Foodstuffs (Sugar) Order, 2023 issued under Section 3 of the Punjab Foodstuffs (Control) Act, 1958 says that the cane commissioner may fix the ex-mill sugar price after giving a three-day notice to the representative body of sugar factories for hearing their point of view.

The notice may be given electronically or digitally or otherwise and shall be deemed as final.

Likewise, the DC of the concerned district may fix the retail price of the sweetener after hearing the representatives of traders as well as consumers.

DCs empowered to fix retail trade after hearing traders and consumers

The cane commissioner may prohibit withholding from sale of sugar and direct the occupier of the factory to dispatch it to the buyer from the place of storage in a time-frame so specified.

The cane commissioner has also been authorised to inspect a premises or vehicle suspected of being used for storage or hauling of sugar in violation of the ordinance and seize the same consignment.

The seized sugar stock may be sold at the notified price within 30 days of the seizure and the proceeds shall be deposited with the concerned treasury, and if: (a) the accused person whose stock has been sold is acquitted of the offence, the deposited amount shall be released to the accused; or (b) the accused person is convicted of the offence, the deposited amount shall be deposited with the Provincial Consolidation Fund.

The ex-mill rate of a 100 kg sugar bag has shot up from Rs11,000 to Rs13,600 within a month.

A month ago, the per kg ex-mill rate of the sweetener was Rs110, while it is now being sold at Rs135 per kg. The retail rate of the commodity has touched the mark of Rs160 per kg.

The wholesale dealers have been blaming the federal government for the sugar price hike saying its permission to allow export of the sweetener has created a shortage of the commodity in the local market.

They also accused the retailers of overcharging their consumers and argue that if the retailers had charged Rs5 per kg profit, the sugar should have been available in the market at Rs140 per kg. But the shopkeepers, they say, are charging more than Rs35 per kg.