Sugar prices remain at RM1.45 per kg for coarse white sugar and RM1.55 for fine sugar, the Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Ministry said.
In a statement, the ministry said it was taking steps to overcome problems in the supply, including offering a reward of up to RM10,000 to informers who exposed manipulation in the supply of the commodity.
The ministry said the government also ordered sugar manufacturers not to sell the commodity to industries whose products were for export.
Enforcement and control at the borders would also be tightened to stop the export of sugar through land, the statement said.
Sugar wholesalers who manipulated the supply, causing shortage in the market, would face stern action, including having their licence revoked, it said.
“Other measures include freezing the issuance of sugar wholesale licence and freezing the increase of sugar stock to wholesalers, with immediate effect,” it said.
Retailers, including hypermarkets and supermarkets, would be allowed to limit the purchase of sugar, it said, adding that officers of the ministry would be stationed in retail premises to enforce the regulation.
“The sale of sugar in its loose form will also be carried out where consumers will pack for themselves the amount of sugar they want to buy,” it said.
This would slow down the buying process compared to having the commodity pre-packed and placed on the shelf, it added.
The ministry’s offices nationwide had also been instructed to carry out daily checks on wholesalers and retailers to determine sugar distributions in their respective states, the statement said.
The ministry said the shortage in the supply was mainly due to an increase in the demand ahead of the coming festive season.
There were also irresponsible people who bought sugar in large quantities to profit from price speculation, it said.
Food and beverage industries had also been purchasing and stocking sugar to ensure no disruption to their operations.
This was compounded further by the smuggling of sugar out of the country, it said.
Meanwhile, Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob told reporters in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, that the ministry would station officers at all sugar factories to monitor the movement of the commodity in their premises.
“By doing this, the ministry will be able to detect whether sugar from these factories are sent to the wholesalers or other parties,” he told reporters after visiting Malayan Sugar Manufacturing (MSM) Co Sdn Bhd.
On the sugar shortage in Kedah, he said, it was because three of six wholesalers had sent the commodity to Kelantan.
“I don’t know why it is being sent to Kelantan. We are looking into this to ensure the sugar is not smuggled into a neighbouring country,” he said, adding that to overcome the shortage in Kedah, the ministry had instructed manufacturers from Penang and Perlis to send supplies to the state.
“Some 1,200 tonnes of sugar from Penang and 100 tonnes from Perlis will be sent to Kedah to overcome the shortage,” he said.
He also assured the public that there would be enough sugar for the coming festive season. — BERNAMA