ISLAMABAD: Black-marketing of sugar supplied to Utility Stores Corporation (USC) was also one of major reasons for withdrawal of subsidy being provided by the government on the items of daily use.
Sugar was being sold at USC outlets on subsidized rates from July 2008 to April 2014 and then suddenly, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet in a meeting held on April 14 this year decided to discontinue subsidy on sale of sugar. “ No other item is being sold on subsidized rates as a regular feature,” a well place source at Finance Ministry told this scribe here on Monday.
The source said that reports of black marketing of USC sugar to take advantage of Rs.5/Kg price differential as well as general public could not receive the complete benefit of the Government policy resulted in discontinuation of the subsidy on sugar. “During the period from July 2012 to December 2013 the amount of subsidy involved on sugar sales through USC outlets, including TCP procurement charges i.e. Rs.8.6/Kg, was Rs. 22.2 billion,” the source said while sharing the data and saying that keeping in view the position, ECC discontinued subsidy on sale of sugar.
However, the source said that government gave special subsidy in the Month of Ramzan which would continue in future. Ramzan package was to the tune of Rs. 2 billion the source said adding that due to surplus sugar production the sugar price remained around Rs 50-53/Kg which was well within the purchasing power of the general public. There are some 5,856 USC outlets in the country almost more than half i.e 3120 in Punjab followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 1319 outlets while there are 931 outlets in Sindh, 368 in Balochistan, 122 in Gligit Baltistan and 96 USC outlets in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
“Currently, USC is selling sugar at the rate of Rs 60 which is higher the open market while sugar is being sold in the open market at the rate varying from RS Rs52 to Rs53 per kg, ” the source said assuming that perhaps government took the decision of withdrawal of subsidy on sugar to meet conditions set by International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the provision of loans. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has linked the approval of loan agreement with the withdrawal of subsidies.