BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)– Malawian consumers are digging deeper into their pockets to buy sugar, following the illegal hike in the price of the commodity by the traders across the country. The hike has been criticized by Illovo Sugar Malawi Limited, the sole producer of the commodity in Malawi.
The sugar producer last increased sugar prices by an average of eight percent in December, 2016 and has not effected any increment since.
However, Maravi Post snap survey in Neno district, established that traders effected an increment on the price of the commodity with a 1Kg packet of sugar selling at K900 and some even as high as K1000.
The traders told this reporter that the price increase is due to the shortage of the commodity on the market, since the company suspended production in November last year.
However through our snap survey, it was leant that the decision by the traders is being influenced by some sugar wholesale vendors, who are withholding the commodity so as to create the shortage, and thereby justifying their reasons to hike prices.
Every year the sugar manufacturer, stops production in November and resumes the following year in April. This allows the company to carry out several maintenance activities while it waits for the end of the rainy season. Local wholesale traders have taken advantage of the situation to deliberately create shortage, forcing price increases in the essential commodity.
Speaking with the local media sugar manufacturer’s Public Relations Officer, Irene Phalula, said the company has not effected any price increase.
“We have not increased sugar prices. Each time there is an increase in prices, we issue a press statement; therefore those alleged new unofficial sugar prices unofficial,” Phalula said.
She further described the traders’ conduct as pure theft, arguing there is no sugar scarcity on the market despite the company suspending its production for a while.
Executive Director of the Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA), John Kapito, condemned the traders’ conduct as detrimental to both the manufacture’s and consumers, since such high prices deter consumers from being able to afford the commodity.
The traders’ conduct comes at a time when the Kwacha is stabilizing and inflation and bank rates are reducing.