Chandigarh: Sugar is turning 'bitter' for consumers in Punjab, with retail rate of the commodity shooting up by up to 20 percent in last twenty days on account of imposition of tax and strike by wholesalers.

Prices of sugar in retail market has jumped to Rs 40-42 per kg in comparison to Rs 35-36 per kg as on July 20, traders said on Friday.

The wholesale rate of sugar is hovering around Rs 3,700-3,800 per quintal, rising from Rs 3,300-3,400 per kg last month.

Traders feared the price of sugar will surge in next couple of days as stockiest and retailers are facing fast depletion of their stock due to ongoing agitation across the state and festival season is also approaching.

The total consumption of sugar in Punjab is pegged at 8 lakh quintals per month and out of which 65-70 percent comes from other states.

The SAD-BJP led Punjab government last month imposed Value Added Tax at the rate of 5 percent on sugar and 10 percent surcharge on the same to mobilise Rs 100 crore as part of its resource mobilisation exercise.

However, surcharge was later withdrawn. “The price of sugar increased by Rs 200 per quintal with the levy of VAT," said Jagjit Singh, President of Ludhiana Wholesaler Sugar Association.

However, price also shot up because of rising demand and indefinite strike by traders across Punjab.

"We have neither been purchasing sugar not supplying it to retailers for the last one week as imposition of VAT is not a right decision because it will hit the consumers hard," Pritam Singh, President of Jalandhar Wholesaler Sugar Association, said.

He claimed Punjab is the only state which imposed VAT on sugar.

Upping the ante, traders have now decided to hold an agitation on August 7 to pressurize the state government to withdraw the levy on sugar.

(Agencies)

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