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Sabah’s sugar disruption due to increased prices in global market

BERNAMA – The disruption of sugar supply in Sabah and several areas in the country is partly due to the spike in raw sugar prices in the international market, said Acting Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali.

To address this issue, he said the government has granted approved permits (AP) to 43 companies to import 557,080 tonnes of sugar to ensure there is stable supply for the people, but until – only 22,547 tonnes or 4.05 per cent could be imported.

He said currently raw sugar costs has increased by 52 per cent and this had also resulted in an increase in production costs for local manufacturers, but despite this, the price of sugar is being controlled by the government.

“To avoid continuous losses, (local manufacturers) reduce production, causing shortage in sugar supply in the local market. They appeal for a price increase, but the government has not made a decision… we are studying the international sugar price forecasts, and it is expected to rise.

“So our approach since the beginning of this year is to open up import APs. Unfortunately, the amount of sugar being imported is low. The issue again is that they cannot import sugar because of the high international prices.”

Armizan, who is also the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs, and Special Functions), said this to reporters after officiating at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Permanent Evacuation Centre (PPKB) for the Pitas district and checking on the Rahmah Sales programme. Armizan said he has received complaints on sugar supply disruption, especially those controlled at the price of MYR2.85 per kilogramme in the Sabah market and other states, adding that in solving the issue it was important to take into consideration the level of sugar supply and not just the price.

“The government is in the process of considering long-term measures related to sugar supply because its responsibility is not only to make sure that sugar price is reasonable, low, and controlled but also to ensure the stability in supply.

“If we control at low prices but the supply is insufficient, it will also be a problem to the people, so we need to take the appropriate consideration. The issue is indeed the high price of sugar in the international market that we have been facing since 2021,” he said. He dismissed claims that the sugar supply is being monopolised by certain parties as the government had earlier given import APs for the commodity to 43 companies, and the average price of sugar import is between MYR3,400 and MYR3,500 per tonne.

Acting Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali officiates the Rahmah Sales programme in Pitas, Sabah. PHOTO: BERNAMA