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High sugar prices, illegal imports bother Trade minister

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By Chimwemwe Mangazi:

KEY—Sugar is one of the most critical commodities at household level

Industry, Trade and Tourism Minister, Salim Bagus, has lamented high sugar prices and an influx of smuggled sugar into the country.

Bagus was speaking when he toured, Illovo Sugar’s Nchalo Estate and PressCane Limited in Chikwawa district on Monday.

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Among other places, the Trade Minister toured PressCane’s ethanol-producing factory and sugarcane fields before engaging Illovo Sugar officials.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Bagus told journalists he engaged the officials on ways of dealing with challenges facing the industry, among other things.

“I asked why local sugar is expensive and they have told me that it is because of the high cost of production coupled with influx of illegal sugar.

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“They say they are losing about K5.2 billion to illegal sugar that has flooded border towns and districts and we have assured them we will help and that we are not issuing any import licences for such products,” Bagus said.

Illovo Sugar Malawi Managing Director, Mark Bainbrigde, said the product was deemed expensive because of high cost of production stemming from the infrastructure and jobs that the company supports.

He said the company had, however, reduced the rate at which sugar prices are increasing and further pledged not to have prices of sugar increased in 2020.

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