Sugar inquiry report ‘one-sided’, PSMA tells FIA DG

Association writes letter to agency’s chief rejecting the findings of inquiry committee’s probe

​ Our Correspondent April 16, 2020
Reuters file photo of sugar

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) on Thursday wrote a letter to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general, rejecting the findings of an inquiry committee’s probe into the sugar crisis in the country and described its report as “one-sided” despite the fact that the investigation was led by the agency’s chief himself.

“The allegations against sugar mill owners are false and the FIA did not include their view in the report on the matter,” the PSMA stated in its 45-page letter.

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The association warned that it would move the courts if justice was not provided.

It further maintained that the report was one-sided and based on propaganda.

“The sugar mill owners will not accept the forensic report [of the committee’s findings] either,” it further read. The PSMA also maintained that sugar mill owners had not carried out any illegal activity.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had pledged not to spare those found guilty of creating and profiting off the sugar and wheat crises once he received the detailed forensic reports of the 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 on April 5, 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.

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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.

“InshaAllah, after these reports come out no powerful lobby will be able to profit at the expense of our public,” the prime minister 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.

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