Punjab govt launches crackdown against sugar mafia

In a bid to end its shortage in and around the provincial capital, the government of Punjab has launched a crackdown against the sugar hoarders.

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Though the government claimed that the sugar crisis in Punjab has been controlled, it is not the case as sugar vanished from the shelves of retail shops after the government fixed its sale price at Rs85 kg. Therefore, the government of Punjab decided to take action in various districts against sugar hoarders and conducted raids on godowns to seize the commodity under the recently promulgated Sugar Supply-Chain Management Order.

According to this law, government is allowed to raid any place where more than two tonnes of sugar has been stored by the owner without being registered with the district administration.

Read More: Is Punjab government seizing stock from sugar mills?

590 bags were seized in two separate raids in Begum Kot and Garhi Shahu areas of Lahore while 660 sugar bags of 50 kilograms each were seized in Multan.

According to reports, shopkeepers were selling sugar to their regular customers at Rs100 per kilogram as they couldn’t afford to sell it at Rs85 per kg after purchasing the same from the wholesale market at Rs100 per kg.  In some areas shopkeepers had also displayed placards stating that sugar is not available.

Read More: FIA summons 40 top players of sugar mafia, 7 arrested

Lahore Deputy Commissioner Mudassar Riaz said that the seized sugar bags would be sold to retailers at a wholesale rate of Rs83 per kg in order to tackle the sugar crisis.

The sugar, being purchased from sugar mills under a Lahore High Court order at the rate of Rs80 per kg, is being further subsidized and sold at Ramazan bazaars at Rs65 per kg. This has created confusion and has resulted in the consumers queueing up at the Ramzaan bazaars to buy the commodity at a cheaper price.

Under the court orders, only a limited quantity of 150,000 tonnes of sugar may be lifted from the sugar mills for the month of Ramazan. Therefore, the millers have asked the government to allow sale of sugar at the market rate by the shopkeepers who are not registered with the district authorities, saying that this would ease the pressure on the few outlets selling it at cheaper rates.

In March, The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in a crackdown against the sugar Satta (betting) mafia in Karachi had arrested seven brokers involved in a sugar price hike.