Prime Minister Imran Khan has defended the ongoing crackdown against an alleged sugar mafia and said the country cannot progress until the powerful are brought to justice.
“Pakistan cannot progress without bringing the powerful to justice. Injustice breeds poverty,” Imran Khan said on Wednesday while addressing the media during his visit to Punjab’s Sargodha district.
The prime minister was responding to a question with regard to PTI’s former secretary general Jahangir Tareen, who is also among the sugar mills owners facing an Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) inquiry.
“When the FIA launched a probe [into a steep hike in sugar prices], some horrible details came to the surface. We came to know how these sugar mills suck the blood out of the people by making cartels, evading tax and under-declaring their income,” he said.
The premier said the price of sugar had gone up by Rs26 in just 15 months.
“As a result [of this hike], 60-70 sugar mills minted Rs140billion. What could I possibly have done? They had looted the people by making a cartel. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the rights of the people,” he added.
Imran Khan said he is ready to hear the concerns of the lawmakers who have rallied around Tareen. “However, it is not possible to have separate sets of laws for the rich and the poor. There can be no compromise on the rule of law.”
The premier claimed that there was evidence against people who committed corruption to the tune of billions of rupees, adding that powerful people are involved in all mega corruption scandals.
Imran Khan said the rulers never thought about the welfare of the poor masses. “If the society does not punish [the powerful criminal], then it will disintegrate.”
Referring to the first Islamic state of Medina, he said before formation of the state, the society was in shambles. “However, the situation started to improve when the powerful was brought to justice.”
The premier said inflation is just the symptom of a still bigger problem. “I am myself monitoring [the over Rs7billion] Ramazan Relief Package,” he added.
The premier congratulated Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for inauguration of the low cost housing project in Sargodha. He said it is the first time in the history of the country that the common man is being provided his personal residence. “This project is for those who cannot afford to buy a house.”
Imran said those who could pay a monthly installment of Rs10,000 could own a house in 10 years while those who could pay Rs5,000 every month would become owner of a personal residence in 20 years.
“By the end of this year, housing projects would be launched in every tehsil of Punjab province. The boom in the construction sector will bring an economic revolution.”
The prime minister said 40% of the population of Karachi lives in slums because the successive governments never thought about offering them a house. “The people, living in slums, neither have ownership rights nor civic facilities,” he added.
He said when there was no legal provision; banks were not ready to offer loans for buying houses.
“Banks are not in the habit of offering loans to poor people. It took us two years to get the nod on a relevant law from the court. I am thankful to the court for approving the law,” he added.
He said bank staff is now being trained to facilitate people with regard to the housing scheme. The government will also offer a subsidy of Rs300,000 on each house. This subsidy will further reduce the burden on installments.”
Earlier, the prime minister laid the foundation-stone of the low-cost housing project under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme. Punjab CM Buzdar and senior officials were present on the occasion.
The prime minister was also briefed about the project under which a total of 1,175 houses measuring three marlas each will be constructed at six places in Sargodha district.
The Punjab government will provide land and other facilities for the project while the Frontier Works Organization will carry out the construction work. The Bank of Punjab will take charge of the mortgage facility which will enable the deserving people to pay the total price of the house in easy installments.
The Naya Pakistan Housing Authority will allot houses to the deserving people through ballot. Around 33,528 applications have been received by the government.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP