Sugar scarcity in Malawi, watch-dog questions Illovo

MALAWI – The country’s consumer watch-dog, Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has bemoaned the current sugar scarcity and has since called on the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism to allow traders to start importing sugar from other countries to address the crisis.

Malawi is experiencing sugar scarcity, a situation which has made traders, shops and other retailing outlets to hike retail prices.

This is a worst ever sugar shortage the country has experienced since 2011/2012 under late Bingu wa Mutharika’s administration.

The current shortage and higher prices of sugar on the market has contributed to the high cost of living among Malawians who are being forced to pay more basic goods and services at a time the country’s economy is stabilizing with inflation rate dropping to 15.80% from 16.10% since January this year.

The Inflation rate was at 21.50% in May, 2016 and rose to as high as 23.50% in July same year.

In a media statement issued on Tuesday and signed by Cama’s Executive Director, John Kapito, the consumer watch-dog questioned Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited’s failure to explain to the nation why the commodity is not on the market and for putting no efforts to address the situation.

“Sugar is one of essential products and its importance to the country’s economy and the citizenry wellbeing cannot be overemphasized; it is therefore surprising that despite assurances by the company that it is producing enough sugar to meet the demand, the sugar scarcity situation is getting worse by day and there is no effort to address the scarcity,” Kapito said in the statement.

Currently consumers across the country are now being forced to pay between K950 and K1,000 for a 1 kilogram packet of sugar than the recommended retail price of K750.

“And what is shocking, though, is the failure by the producing company, Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited to explain to the nation why the commodity is not available on the market.”

Kapito accused the company of punishing Malawian consumers by taking advantage of the fact that sugar is a protected product against imports.

“Cama is therefore asking the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism to allow other traders to import sugar from other countries to address the crisis which has undermined the Buy Malawi campaign.

We are also asking Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited to explain to the nation why we have sugar scarcity,” he added.

Despite dismissing reports of sugar scarcity, Illovo Sugar Malawi Limited has failed to supply the market with enough sugar to meet the demands.

And reports indicate that the company has deliberately created the crisis in order to clear out some of its old sugar stocks.

The sugar scarcity on the local market was noted in February this year months after the company stopped crushing any cane since November, 2016.

Every year Illovo stops production in November and resumes the following year in April and in between the company carries out several maintenance activities as it waits rainy season to end.

May 2, 2017: Nyasa Times

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