“The government will start taking action against closed sugar mills,” he said. “We will not be blackmailed by the association.”

The federal minister slammed the Sindh government, accusing it of colluding with Pakistan Sugar Mill Association’s Sindh zone hatching a conspiracy against the federal government.

“Why are sugar mills still shuttered? They should have been running by October 15,” he said.

Legally, the government would force all sugar mills to run for the entire prescribed period without any break. Sugar mills found violating government orders, will be fined Rs5 million, he said.

Hammad Azhar pointed out: “The Sindh government has been decreasing the crushing season, in an effort to create an artificial crisis,” Azhar said.

The Punjab government, he said, had instructed mills in southern Punjab to remain functional till November 15 while others will be working till November 20, he said.

Sugar Dealer Association

Office-bearers of the sugar dealer association said that the price of sugar was Rs117 per kilogram in the wholesale market. On November 5, the sweetener price had soared above Rs150 in most cities and towns across the country.

Sugar prices in the wholesale market dropped by Rs23 per kg over the past three days. In the retail market, a bag weighing a kilogram of sugar was sold at Rs125/kg. Dealers predicted that the prices might come down to under Rs100 a kilogram.

“Artificial crisis”

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communications Shehbaz Gill announced launching an investigation against what he called a “mafia” for creating an artificial sugar crisis. “Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed to take action against the sugar mafia. Those who made people suffer will be held accountable,” Gill tweeted.