There is an acute wheat flour crisis in Sindh, Punjab and other parts of the country. The crisis has stemmed not due to the shortage of the basic commodity but rather the mismanagement and inefficiency of policymakers. Now a sugar crisis is brewing and is likely to rise above the horizon.
Flour and sugar are part of our everyday diet and are regarded as staple foods. Let us look at the current situation and the solutions to the crisis:
Sugar crisis – The current situation
The wholesale price of a 100 kg bag of sugar has increased by Rs300 in Karachi. The rise of sugar is hovering around Rs64 per kg. During the past week, the prices jumped to Rs74 per kg, and are expected to touch Rs80 a kg due to the shortage this week.
Pakistan produced between 50-55 million tonnes of sugar last year. The wholesale rate of sugar could reach up to Rs100 per kg by the end of the month, worrying consumers that their favorite sugary drinks will now also become expensive and beyond their reach.
When did the crisis start?
Immediately after the wheat flour crisis, the price of sugar increased by five rupees to Rs7g per kg during the last week. In several parts of Karachi, sugar is being sold between Rs75-80 per kg.
The Karachi Wholesalers Association has warned about a looming crisis urging the government to take action by halting the sugar exports and preventing speculation. They have warned that sugar production could reduce by 1.5 million tonnes this year.
Reason for the crisis
Any fluctuation in the prices of sugar, wheat, and other basic necessities affects the common man. The prices are determined by basic demand and supply rules. Many sellers hoard the product creating an artificial crisis to profit from rising prices.
What is an artificial crisis? As we saw during the wheat crisis, there was neither a shortage of the product but an impression was given that the product was unavailable in the market. This violates the basic economic policy of demand and supply.
Who is responsible?
The foremost responsibility lies with the incumbent PTI government but it cannot be held solely responsible. This viewpoint is also shared by opposition parties who have called for an investigation to determine who benefited from the crisis.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has strongly denied the accusation, calling it a conspiracy to topple his government. He has also taken strict notice of the wheat crisis and called for strict actions against hoarders and profiteers.
Who hatched the conspiracy?
If the prime minister is to be believed, then the conspiracy is being hatched by those who want to see the government collapse. They want to ignite protests in the country which can lead to the downfall of the government.
PM Imran Khan says he has worked earnestly for economic stability and his team has taken several steps in this regard. Then why is the prime minister unable to control food prices? The prime minister wants to bring revolutionary institutional reforms and no one doubts his intention but the current situation speaks against him.
The prime minister’s government faces enormous challenges. He is playing an active role on the global front from de-escalating regional tensions and the Afghan peace process. He also has disgruntled allies back home who are seeking their vested political interests. All this contributes to the conspiracies against the government.
What is the solution?
Federal Adviser Mr Mahmoud Moulvi has termed the ongoing crisis as a pre-planned and carefully orchestrated conspiracy against the government. He said these wheat and sugar mafias want to topple the government and thus a sugar crisis has been brought to the limelight.
He said that Punjab declared the province as self-sufficient in wheat, and has informed the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO), the agency responsible for the storage of agricultural products within the country. Then why is a crisis being created?
Regarding a possible solution, the adviser said it is only a matter of restoring the writ of the government and launching a crackdown against those selling wheat flour at inflated prices.