Ministry issues 20 sugar import licences to improve supply

Ministry issues 20 sugar import licences to improve supply

 Ministry of Trade and Industry has issued 20 licences to local firms to import sugar to address the commodity’s scarcity on the market.

The ministry’s spokesperson Patrick Botha said in an interview on Monday that the import licences are aimed at ensuring availability of the commodity on the domestic market.

Some of the firms issued with the licence are Mungisha Investment, Agma, Transglobe Produce Export, Rab Processors Limited, Zamm Investment, Paul Shop, Simama General Dealers, Coca-Cola Beverage Malawi Limited, Mothers Food Limited, Abiti Investment, One Step Trading and Universal Industries Limited.

Some traders have raised the price of sugar

Zamm Investment director Mohamed Tutla confirmed being issued with the licence.

“I was given the licence to import 200 tonnes of sugar and I have only imported 60 tonnes, so far, due to foreign exchange scarcity,” he said.

On his part, Simama General Dealers director Francis Simama said in an interview that his company is expected to import the commodity in the second week of April.

He said: “We have been distributing Illovo Sugar, but now we have been issued a licence to import sugar and we will be importing 4 500 metric tonnes of raw brown sugar from Brazil.”

However, Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiative executive director Sylvester Namiwa, whose organisation has been keenly following up on the sugar price in the country, said there is nothing to be proud of as the move has the potential to drain foreign exchange.

“This action is too little too late,” he said.

Speaking last Thursday in Kasungu during the commemoration of World Consumer Rights Day, Minister of Trade and Industry Sosten Gwengwe said government is considering a review of some laws to curb profiteering tendencies that subject consumers to unfair trade practices.

He said the review of the law will ensure that government starts regulating distributors and suppliers of sugar who are currently in self-regulation.

“They need to justify why they are raising the price of sugar when their supplier, Illovo has not changed the price,” he said

Gwengwe said going forward, the ministry will start licensing distributors because they were under self-regulation and that has not helped in as far as sugar pricing is concerned.

The scarcity of sugar has resulted in some traders selling one kilogramme packet of sugar as high as K3 000.

Malawi has two local sugar manufacturers, Illovo Sugar (Malawi) plc and Salima Sugar Company Limited.

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