President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the allocation of over N25 billion worth of sugar into the market to curb scarcity and bring down the price of sugar across the country, The Nation has learnt.
The president, it was gathered, took the step to reduce the high cost of sugar and ensure availability of the sweetener in every home before he jets out of t.
In the hierarchy of prioritised commodities, the Federal Government, it was gathered, considered sugar as the third most important after rice and wheat.
The step taken by Buhari follows the Presidential Approval he gave to BUA to sell 86,000 metric tons of the essential commodity to the market to reduce its price across the country.
It was gathered that local sugar consumption always comes from the Lagos factory of BUA, but the company has just been given approval by Buhari to allow sale of 86,000 metric tons (Mt) into the market from the export zone of BUA in Onne, Rivers State to avoid scarcity and bring down its price.
This was confirmed by one of the senior managers of BUA at Onne Port, Alhaji Muhammodu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim said without obtaining the Presidential nod, the company cannot sell to the local market because the Onne factory of BUA is dedicated for sugar export to the neighbouring countries.
It was based on the approval that made Ibrahim to say the President had increased sugar allocation to the market.
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The estimated value of the 86,000 metric tons of the sugar to be released to the market by BUA is over N25billion based on the price of the essential commodity at the international market.
For instance, last month, the commodity sold for $532.5 per ton at international market and when you calculate that with the 86,000Mt asked to be released by BUA, the price is over N25 billion.
The directive for the sale of the 86,000Mt to the local market by Buhari, sources said, “was part of efforts of the Federal Government to make operators and marketers in the sector desist from making unnecessary propaganda and turn themselves to shylock traders capable of distorting the progress being recorded by the government in the country’s sugar production industry.
“Any efforts to halt sales of the product in a bid to create scarcity and force prices to go up by the traders have failed”.
Buhari, a source said, gave the approval to end “artificial shortage” allegedly created by sugar mill owners and traders.
Ibrahim said: “We export to Ghana, Togo, Senegal; we also export to Republic of Niger by road. Our sugar factory is located here in Onne.
“The local consumption comes from Lagos. But we just got approval from the Presidency to allow sales of 86,000Mt into the local market to bring down the price of sugar.
“The approval just came. We need approval to do that because the factory here is an export oriented factory.
“But for the fact that the price has gone too high, the Federal Government now approved that BUA should sell 86,000 metric tons from here to the local market,” a senior BUA official said.
With the approval given by President Buhari, it was gathered that the price of sugar would start falling and reduce to the normal level in the next few weeks.
The step taken by the President was in line with the National Sugar Development Council.