Sugar out of reach

Sugar, whose price had already risen to Rs95 a kilogram in most parts of the country, is now being sold at a still higher rate of Rs110 per kg in many areas; and by Eidul Azha it may see a further rise in price up to Rs120 per kg. In households where the white crystals are a vital commodity – to sweeten the cup of tea even for those who consume little else – the hike comes as a big blow. Prices had indeed been rising for some time as hoarders removed the item from their shelves, anticipating a rise in prices while the cost of diesel soared. Currently much of the sugar in use in the country is being imported. There is a political angle to this. The PML-N’s Ishaq Dar, a former finance minister, told the Senate on Friday that the government had deliberately delayed import to benefit millers. This goes beyond misgovernance and amounts to a crime against people which must not go unpunished.
The situation at present means that sugar must be transported upcountry from Karachi, with the rising transport costs having a particularly acute impact on prices. Shopkeepers report buyers returning home with tiny quantities of sugar, quite unable to afford more. We have seen a sugar crisis before. Indeed even today the bitter memory of the suffering it brought for many lingers on. The prospect of another such crisis can only fill them with dread.Worse still is the fact that not only sugar but almost all food items have been affected. Multiple reports have appeared in newspapers of hikes in the prices of onions, garlic and all kinds of other items of daily use. Luxury items have long gone beyond the reach of most people. The majority manage the best they can, cutting corners wherever they find them. Now it seems that fulfillment of even the most basic needs may be pushed out of their reach. Unchecked profiteering aggravates the problem, with the local administrative setup unable to ensure any kind of effective check. To put it simply, we have a situation that amounts to a disaster affecting millions of people. More will be hit in the days ahead and leave us wondering if the misery that has befallen the people as a result of all this will ever figure in the thinking of a government that came into power raising slogans of a better life for the people – Thenation