Karachi: Dr. Shahid Rasheed Butt, the former President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), has raised an alarm about a potential new sugar crisis in Pakistan, orchestrated by the sugar mills mafia to exploit the current economic situation for illegitimate profits. According to Butt, the mafia's strategy could rob low-income individuals of at least one hundred billion rupees amid the nation's escalating inflation.
According to Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Butt disclosed that there are plans to export five lakh tonnes of sugar, under the guise of surplus stock, and efforts are underway to obtain the necessary export permissions. He warned that following the grant of export permissions, sugar prices in the local market are likely to be manipulated and increased, resulting in substantial financial burdens on the population.
Highlighting the precedent, Butt pointed out that last year, the government allowed sugar exports on the pretext of surplus stock, which paradoxically led to a spike in local market prices. This situation, he noted, contradicts standard market logic where surplus typically leads to price reductions.
Butt urged that the sugar millers should not be permitted to export sugar this year to prevent the orchestration of an artificial crisis. He emphasized the need for the Sindh and Punjab governments to align their policies, particularly concerning the official purchase price of sugarcane. Currently, there is a disparity, with Punjab's price set at 400 rupees per maund and Sindh's at 425 rupees. This difference is causing market instability and potential losses for Punjab's farmers, estimated at twenty thousand rupees per acre.
In his statement, Butt also reflected on the outcomes of actions taken against hoarders and profiteers this year. While some positive results were observed, he lamented that sugar mill owners largely evaded repercussions and expressed skepticism about the likelihood of effective future actions against them.