ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the ruling party seem to be having different opinions about the inquiry committee’s report on the sugar crisis in the country.
The report, which was made public on Saturday, termed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s decision to allow export of sugar unjustified as it caused a 30% increase in its price.
“The exporters of sugar gained benefit in two ways: first they were able to gain subsidy and secondly, they made profit from the increasing sugar prices in the local market,” according to the inquiry committee, led by the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)
The committee report revealed that former PTI secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen and Federal Minister for National Food Security
Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar were among the main beneficiaries.
The supporters of Tareen believe that the report is aimed at defaming the former secretary general but would not bear any legal consequences.
They wonder why Prime Minister Imran Khan had not made the inquiry report against then health minister Amir Mehmood Kiyani public.
Kiyani had been removed from his office last year due to a controversy over increase in the prices of medicines.
They also allege that a certain group close to the premier was busy lobbying against Tareen.
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar and PM Secretary Azam Khan, both close to the premier, have been vocal critics of Tareen.
Political analysts are of the view that PM Imran’s decision to make the report public is a message to the influential including the Chaudhrys, Tareen and the powerful who are insisting that the premier replace the Punjab chief minister and take decisions on several other matters in their favour.
Commenting on the issue, ruling party’s chief organiser Saifullah Niazi stated on his Twitter handle that the sugar mafia is threatening the premier that the price would go up to Rs110 per kilo if the inquiry was not stopped.
He cautioned the mafia against tax evasion, cartelisation and utilisation of subsidies for personal gains saying these measures were against the ideology of PTI.
He urged them to take corrective measures or otherwise their mills could be confiscated.
Niazi declared that the premier had taken an unprecedented step by bringing out the report.
On the other hand, PTI senior leader Ishaq Khan Khakwani has been defending the release of hefty subsidy to the sugar mills owners.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Khakwani observed that granting subsidy was a practice of the federal or provincial government for a particular sector, industry or crop and not for an individual.
Khakwani noted that regimes in the past had given subsidies on gas, fertilizser, petrol, electricity, agriculture and other sectors.
He maintained it was routine matter where one got more than the other based on the volume of the output as was in the case of sugar industry.
“As sugar production and its price directly impact the farming community, the governments at national and provincial level move to save the rural economy,” he said.
“Decision to provide subsidy therefore can easily become a political issue when governments change,” he added.
The PTI leader was of the opinion that in the present case, all depended on the terms of reference on the basis of which the inquiry was conducted.