Sugar, wheat profiteers won’t be spared, vows PM Imran

Premier says he will take action after FIA-led body’s forensic audit of its reports is out on 25th

​ Our Correspondent April 05, 2020
Premier says he will take action after FIA-led body’s forensic audit of its reports is out on 25th. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday pledged not to spare those found guilty of creating and profiteering off the sugar and wheat crises once he received the detailed forensic reports of an FIA-led commission’s preliminary findings on April 25.

“As promised, the preliminary reports into the sudden price hikes of sugar and wheat have been released immediately without alteration/tampering,” the premier tweeted a day after the high-powered inquiry body in its 32-page report termed the PTI government’s decision to allow the export of sugar unjustified as it had caused a 30% increase in its price.

The commission further revealed that PTI’s former secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen and Federal Minister for National Food Security Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar were among the main beneficiaries of this move.

The premier noted that making such a report public was unprecedented in the country’s history.

“Previous political leaderships, because of their vested interests and compromises, lacked the moral courage to order and release such reports,” he added.

The prime minister said he awaited the high-powered commission’s detailed forensic reports, which will come out on 25 April, before taking action.

PTI govt goes public with probe report on sugar crisis

“InshaAllah, after these reports come out no powerful lobby will be able to profiteer at the expense of our public,” he vowed.

The prime minister had constituted a commission headed by the FIA director general and comprising a senior officer of the Intelligence Bureau and the director general of the Anti-

Corruption Establishment of Punjab to investigate the causes behind the crises and price hike of the two commodities.

The commission found that sugar exporters benefitted in two ways: first they were able to gain subsidy and secondly, they made profit from the increasing sugar prices in the local market.

Both stalwarts of the PTI went away with a Rs1.03 billion subsidy on the export of sugar, paid out from the taxpayers money, which was equal to 41% of the total subsidy the government of Punjab paid to sugar barons, according to the report.

“Sugar mill owners who availed maximum subsidy had political clout and influence in decision making and they tried to gain maximum benefit in a very limited time,” the report read.

The PTI government’s decision to allow export of sugar led to increase in the retail price, according to the committee’s main findings. The federal and the provincial governments ignored the warnings of low sugar stocks and increase in prices, it added.

Before the decision to allow export of one million metric tons of sugar, its price was Rs55 per kg in December 2018 that jumped to Rs71.44 per kg in June 2019 – an increase of Rs16.47 per kg or 30%, according to the findings.

The report said that despite the clear calculations of the stock position after deducting the strategic reserves, Sugar Advisory Board in its meeting of June 2019 did not ban the export of sugar.


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