Govt decides to import another 0.5m tonnes sugar to overcome shortage

ISLAMABAD – The government has decided to import another 0.5 million tons of sugar in order to overcome the shortage that caused the enormous increase in commodity prices.

The government is also trying to exempt commercial sugar imports from customs duties, by putting forward food safety provisions. Ministry of Industry and Production officials stated that the Council of Ministers’ Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) will likely consider briefs this week on more sugar imports and the elimination of taxes and duties on imported sugar. ECC was supposed to receive the summaries last week, but the meeting was postponed.

“The summary of 500,000 tonnes of sugar imports is being carried for the upcoming ECC meeting,” Federal Industry and Production Minister Hammad Azhar said on Twitter on Sunday. He also said that tentative estimates show that local sugar production will be higher than last season. “However, due to low turnover stocks, it will be recommended to start imports early to the TCP in consultation with the provinces,” he added. The minister also said that provinces would be advised to release this sugar at the retail stage at subsidized and control rates. “Cane brokers report that they currently supply large amounts of sugar and cane sugar. Rather, any report is fake news,” he concluded.

The sugar price has risen to about Rs 100 per kg in several markets of the federal capital. Market sources say that sugar prices may increase even more in the next few days. Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that the sugar was sold at Rs 81 per kilogram on the national average compared to Rs 102 per kilogram last month. The Prime Minister went to Twitter and congratulated his team for lowering the price of commodities through a sophisticated strategy. Federal Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar and Federal Industry and Production Minister Hammad Azhar also took to Twitter to greet the PTI government’s efforts to lower the price.

The official said the Ministry of Industry and Production advised the ECC to exempt commercial sugar imports from customs duties, citing food safety provisions. In summary, the ministry suggested that the following tax deduction could be provided for commercial white sugar imports until 30 June 2021; (i) a reduction of the withholding income tax on white sugar imports from 5.5% to 0.25%; (ii) reduction of the value added sales tax on imports of such sugar from 3% to 0%.

Updated: January 20, 2021 — 9:21 am

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