Another consignment of 24,000 tonnes is scheduled to arrive on Friday this week while the rest expected in the country before the end of this month, the premier said.
Speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam, Majaliwa said the sugar started being distributed by zone on Monday and is supposed to be sold at the announced indicative price of 1,800/- per kilo and no more.
A total of 2,000 tonnes has been allocated to the northern zone; 3,000 tonnes to Lake zone; 2,000 tonnes to the central zone; 2,000 tones to the southern zone; and 2,000 tonnes to the southern highlands zone, he said.
“The imported sugar will guarantee availability of the commodity in the country up to June before the next production period that commences in July,” the premier explained.
Local sugar producers are said to have suspended production during this rainy season to allow for their plants to undergo maintenance.
This paper reported yesterday that consumers have lately resorted to 'panic buying' of sugar amid a perceived acute shortage resulting in a seemingly uncontrollable spike in retail prices.
For example, in Dar es Salaam alone retail prices for sugar have escalated to around 3,800/- per kilogram, compared to the recommended government price of 1,800/- per kilo.
But according to survey findings by The Guardian, this has not stopped desperate customers from buying sugar in large quantities to the extent that most major shops and supermarkets have become depleted of the commodity.
At the popular Mlimani City shopping mall in the city, workers at the two main retail supermarket chains Nakumatt and Game were on Monday this week observed informing queues of disappointed customers that there has been no sugar for a whole week.
At the Mwenge market in the city, vendors complained that the sugar scarcity was seriously hurting their businesses as regular customers are no longer coming.
In a bid to avert a looming national crisis, President Magufuli has offered tax waivers to state-run pensions fund organizations so they can import sugar in bulk and help fulfill the rising demand.
The government has also been orchestrating a countrywide crackdown on local traders believed to be intentionally hoarding sugar to create the impression that the shortage is worse than it actually is.