Imran Khan directed forensic analysis of 10 sugar mills

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ISLAMABAD: Prime minister Imran Khan has directed forensic analysis of 10 sugar mills to further expand the findings. The prime minister had constituted two high-powered committees under Director General Federal Investigation Agency and comprising a senior officer of Intelligence Bureau and DG Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab to investigate the causes behind the crises and price hike of the said commodities.

After the formation of the said committees, the prime minister had repeatedly resolved to expose and penalize those found responsible for the sugar and wheat crises to avoid the recurrence of such acts.

On submission of the inquiry reports from both the committees, certain additional questions were also referred to the bodies seeking further clarifications.

The committees had furnished separate main and supplementary reports to address the further queries raised by the Prime Minister’s House.

The committee on wheat crisis consisted of FIA DG Wajid Zia, Deputy DG IB Mubarak Zeb and ACE Punjab DG Muhammad Gohar Nafees. The committee on the subject of sugar consisted of FIA DG Wajid Zia, Deputy DG IB Ahmad Kamal and ACE Punjab DG Muhammad Goher Nafees.

The committees had held series of meetings with all the stakeholders including the federal ministries, Federal Board of Revenue, mills associations and relevant provincial departments.

In pursuance of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s firm belief on transparency and accountability as basic ingredients of democracy and good governance, the prime minister decided to make both the reports and additional answers public.

In its 32-page report, the committee on sugar price hike termed the export of sugar unjustified which increased the sugar price in local market. The exporters gained benefits in two ways; first they got subsidy and secondly they made profit by increasing price locally.

Fifteen sugar mills benefitted from the subsidy including the ones owned by PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, Shamim Ahmed Khan and Makhdum Omer Shahryar (relative of federal minister Makhdum Khuso Bakhtiar) with Chaudhry Munir and Moonis Elahi as partners in the group.

These three groups availed a total subsidy of 57.49 percent that amounts to Rs 1.4 billion out of total subsidy of around Rs 2.4 billion.

However, in continuation of probe being carried out by the inquiry committee on sugar prices, the federal government through a cabinet decision expanded the scope of said body to an inquiry commission by conferring powers given under The Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act 2017.

The commission is further carrying out forensic analysis to expand on the findings of the inquiry committee.

The commission is carrying out the forensic analysis of 10 sugar mills, including Alliance Sugar Mills, Ghotki, Al-Arabia Sugar Mills, Sargodha, Al Moiz Sugar Mills, DI Khan and Mianwali, Hamza Sugar Mills, Rahim Yar Khan, Hunza Sugar Mills, Faisalabad and Jhang, JDW 1, 2, 3 sugar mills of Rahim Yar Khan and Ghotki, which produce about 26 percent sugar in the country.

The commission is due to complete its task on April 25.

After the commission finalises its report, its findings will also be made public and any corrective and/or punitive measures required or recommended will be taken by the federal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The inquiry committee however recommends immediate crackdown on the satta players as satta at major sugar market is already crossing Rs 100 per kg for Ramazan. Moreover, it called for ensuring to lift the sold sugar in appropriate amount so that the supply remains adequate.

Regarding wheat, the committee found that the PASSCO failed to meet its procurement targets and the ministry failed to grasp market situation and timely advice for import of the wheat.

For Punjab, the committee called ex-food secretary Naeem Sadiq and ex-director food Zafar Iqbal for their failure to meet procurement targets. Provincial Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry is responsible for not devising any reforms agenda to address chronic ailments in the department.

The responsibility in Sindh lies with the whole cabinet for not approving the procurement, and for KP, ex-secretary food Akbar Khan and ex-director food Saadat Hussain and Food Minister Qalandar Lodhi stood responsible for failing to meet procurement targets.

The report states that the Punjab Food Department was unable to control flour mills and started collecting wheat after a delay of 20-22 days. It further mentioned that the food department failed to come up with a process for the demand and supply of the product. The document failed to mention why the Economic Coordination Council (ECC) approved the decision to export sugar and under whose influence Punjab government issue subsidies to sugar mills. Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar expressed hope that Prime Minister Imran Khan will do justice come what may. Former PTI general secretary Jahangir Tareen said that out of the Rs 3bn subsidy, Rs 2.5bn were issued to sugar mill owners when the PML-N was in power.

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