FROM SCRATCH NEWSWIRE

SCAVENGING THE INTERNET

SUGAR IMPORT MAY PUSH UP PRICES TO RS50 (Pakistan)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

by Aftab Maken

ISLAMABAD: Blame game between policy-makers and millers seems to have further pushed up sugar prices in the local market but its supply is expected to be stable next year, sources in the industry and government confided to The News on Monday.

“Current sugar prices are actual rates compared to suppressed prices of last year,” said Secretary General of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) K A Qazalbash, adding it would be above and around Rs50 per kg if the government allowed traders to import the sweetener.

About last year’s stock of 5.7 million tonnes, Qazalbash said it was exactly what the association projected and “we requested high officials to allow export of surplus 1.5 million tonnes after keeping 4.2 million tonnes for domestic consumption but they did not allow in order to bring down prices in the local market.”

The stock stood at 1.14 million tonnes on Sept 30 and the PSMA secretary general hoped that it was enough to cater to domestic consumption. Allowing imports for domestic consumption would further push up prices of sugar, he added.

About the increase in consumption, he said sugar consumption in downstream industry, particularly bakeries, had increased manifold while its usage in other industries like beverages and pharmaceutical products had also risen.

Millers were citing causes like sugar smuggling to Afghanistan, lower-than-expected cane production, grim situation in the international commodity market and actual prices in the local market, which might push the prices to above Rs50 per kg for the first time, a high official of the Ministry of Industries and Production said.

Government circles, giving the other side of the story, mainly attributed the current increase in sugar prices to under-invoicing of the commodity and export of nearly one million tonnes to Afghanistan through Chaman. However, figures compiled by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) showed export of nearly 240,000 tonnes, the official said. Current sugarcane crop is expected to be lower at around 53 million tonnes with sugar production at 3.7 million tonnes.

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEWS’ (Paklistan)

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