Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda is expected to have an audience with regional commissioners and relevant stakeholders soon centring on the pricing of sugar.

The item is understood to be cheaper in Tanzania than in the rest of the East Africa region, but smuggling has disrupted supply lines and occasioned price hikes with little record.

Industry and Trade minister Dr Cyril Chami said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the PM wants to know why and how the price of the item has lately risen from as low as 1,600/- per kilo to as high as 3,500/- “before deciding what remedial measures to take”.

He said the talks would attract representatives from the Industry and Trade ministry and the Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives ministry as well as officials of the board charged with issuing sugar purchase permits.

Dr Chami, who was officiating at a function at the Tanzania Industrial Research and Development Organisation (Tirdo), said the stakeholders would make a thorough study of the sugar production network in the country, including verifying the number of dormant sugar factories and the distribution system.

“We will meet any time from now as per instructions from the PM and would begin by seeking to identify the root’s cause of the problem so as to know why things have gone wrong and what to do to rectify the situation,” he noted.

The minister explained that the problem was still relatively minor “since it was prompted mainly by the scarcity of sugar Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda”, but added that it was important for Tanzania to take appropriate remedial measures before things got worse or out of hand.

“If the stakeholders discover that production and distribution are among the chief causes of these mad rises in the price of sugar, the relevant authorities will have no option but to allow the importation of the item,” he said, adding: “We can’t let our people suffer by restricting importation while we know how important sugar is in people’s lives”.

The wholesale, sub-wholesale and retail prices of sugar began rising early this year but the situation worsened some days before the Ramadhan chiefly owing shortages in several neighbouring countries of Kenya Rwanda and Uganda.

Dr Chami said the government is aware of cases of sugar produced in Tanzania being smuggled to neighbouring countries at inflated prices.

He said following public complaints on the matter, the PM has ordered regional authorities particularly in areas bordering other countries to join hands with other government officers such as ministerial directors, security and law-enforcement agents as well as trade officers in solving the problem.

According to the minister, Rwanda and Uganda recently requested for a permission to import some 90,000 tonnes of sugar from Tanzania under East African Community Common Market arrangements.

Sugar produced in Tanzania has been routinely smuggled into other EAC partner states, where prices are higher because of the scarcity of the item.

Industry observers blame the trend for the perceived shortages of sugar in Tanzania, which many say is behind the spiralling of the item’s prices.

Acute shortages of sugar in Kenya and Uganda have prompted the smuggling of the sweetener from Tanzania, where the prices are lower.

While retailers in Tanzania are directed to sell a kilo of sugar at not more than 1,700/-, the current sub-whole price stands at between 87,000/- and 110,000/- per 50-kilo bag and the retail price at between 2,300/- and 2,500/- a kilo.

In Kenya, a kilo of the item fetches Kshs 210, which at the current exchange rate is 3,570/- in Tshs. In Uganda it is Ugsh. 6,000 (equivalent to 3,400/- in TShs) and in Burundi it is Burundian Francs 2,000 (about to 3,100/-).

source: ippmedia

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