Sugar prices have reduced because the government is ensuring there enough stock in the market.
Traders say this is because of the government’s crackdown on sugar mills hoarding stock and selling only when prices are high.
Sugar prices in the Agriculture Produce Market Committee market at Vashi, have come down by Rs 4 a kg in 15 days. Retail prices are down by Rs 2 a kg. Traders expect prices to stabilise.
Mukesh Kuvadia, secretary of the Bombay Sugar Merchants’ Association, said the government has started forcing sugar mills to ensure that the monthly sale quota assigned to them is dispatched within the specified time frame — 20 per cent of the quota in the first week of the month, 30 per cent in the second week and 25 per cent in each of the last two weeks.
This has resulted in steady supply in the market and a reduction in prices.
Traders claimed the mills, earlier, waited for prices to rise before selling so that they could make maximum profit. If they do that now, they will have to bear losses. “Those who do not sell their stock as per the specifications will have to sell it to the government at Rs 16 to 17 per kg, which is much lower than the market price,” said Kuvadia. “Mills obviously do not want to suffer such huge losses.”
Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Anil Deshmukh, said the Centre is strictly enforcing the sale of sugar as per the schedule. Sugar mills too are cooperating, Deshmukh said. “While the Centre is completely in charge of sugar, the state monitors the situation,” he said. “I believe sugar prices will come down further.”
The wholesale price of sugar was between Rs 4,080 and Rs 4,150 per 100 kg on February 1. On Monday, they were down to Rs 3,690 to Rs 3,750 per 100 kg.
This has caused retail prices to drop too. Tejas Shah, a Navi Mumbai retailer, said: “Prices have come down from Rs 45 to 43 per kg due to government pressure.”
While customers have been struggling with high sugar prices, state Congress spokesperson, Kanhaiyalal Gidwani, has alleged that the commodity is being smuggled out of the country.
“Smugglers are shipping out sugar through Assam and West Bengal to Bangladesh and from Punjab and Rajasthan to Pakistan,” Gidwani said in a letter to Union Finance and Home ministers.
Gidwani alleged that private traders in states on the borders have suddenly increased their purchase quantities, which was an indication that sugar is being smuggled out.