THE sugar shortage that drove prices to record highs is finally poised to ease as distribution of imported sweeteners began on Monday to fill in the supply gap.
The Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe said on his X account that a consignment of imported sugar had begun to be distributed in various areas in the country at the indicative prices.
“I am pleased to inform you that the imported sugar has started to be supplied in the market today (yesterday), said the minister on his X account on Monday.
He said sugar supply would return to normal after local producers acted swiftly to import part of 100,000 tonnes as approved by the government early this year.
He said the consignment imported by Kilombero Sugar Company, one of the sugar producers in the country has started to be distributed.
“I know the challenge of price still exists and there are places where traders do not follow the indicative price. We have arrested some of the traders and we have started the process of revoking their licenses,” he stated.
Mr Bashe said that the government would review the law and the entire system of trading the sweetener from its production in the factories to the consumer, to make sure the benefit remains mutual to both consumer and producer.
Either, the government asked the producers to make sure they open depots in regions and remove the monopoly of a few distributors who hoard the product and create an artificial shortage.
“We will review the sugar production law to create the best and friendly environment to protect consumers and producers together with fair competition for all.
“We are responsible to protect the producer and also to protect the consumer. I have asked the regional authorities to monitor this and I have instructed each company to advertise its agents in the media outlets so that the public can get to know them.
Moreover, Mr Bashe urged Tanzanians to be calm as the government is taking action as well as the Sugar Board of Tanzania (SBT) continues to manage the process to control and take to task those who are taking advantage of the shortage.
He said the sugar industry legally has a monopoly system, which the government will review without affecting the Tanzanian’s jobs.
On his part, the Kilombero Sugar Company Business Director, Mr Fimbo Butalla explained to the minister that the sugar that was imported was sold at 2,530/- per kilogramme.
“We have sold the imported sugar at the recommended price of 2,530/- a kilo. We have sold it to our big agents and we do not expect them to sell at a higher price to benefit themselves.
“We make sure and monitor the whole trend and we have every reason to follow up with our agents until we finally see the price they are selling,” said Mr Butalla, adding that the company management will not hesitate to revoke any who will be implicated charging illegal price hike.
Furthermore, Mr Butalla recommended to the government to remove taxes that caused the higher price of sugar.
“We are thankful that the government has been able to remove the taxes that were causing the price of sugar to be high. This shows how the government loves its citizens,” said Butalla.
“I would like to assure the people that this is a transitional situation because our factory (Kilombero) is in the process of having a large factory that will be able to add more production than 100, 000 tonnes.
Early January this year, Mr Bashe on his X account stated that “Although rain is still pouring affecting production areas, factories are continuing with production. We will continue watching closely at the production and I assure you that within 30-60 days, stability will return and sugar prices will be stable because we will have reached a better place”.