ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday constituted a committee to investigate delay in the import of 1.2 million tons of sugar to control surge in domestic prices of the commodity.
Chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet here, Gilani expressed anger over what he called an uncalled for delay and termed it a move to favour influential industrialists.
According to a top official, the committee would comprise those federal ministers who are members of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet.
A minister told The Express Tribune that the secretaries of the respective ministries would be assisting the ministers in the probe. Gilani has sought report from the committee within four days. Official said the probe body is set to hold its first meeting on Friday.
The premier asked the panel to brief him on measure the government could take to ensure uninterrupted supply of sugar and other food items during the holy month of Ramazan, set to start by mid August.
The government was to import 1.2 million tons of sugar by September this year but it is set to miss the target by a huge margin due to alleged negligence on the part of its functionaries.
Reacting to the move, Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PAMA) Chairman Iskandar Khan said they are not against the import of the commodity but it should be through government agencies. “We don’t support commercial import,” he added.
Almost the entire cabinet suggested withdrawal of an earlier decision of exporting two million tons of wheat and instead subsidise it for local consumers, a minister told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.
Slipping out of hands
Prime Minister Gilani was critical of the performance of his cabinet. However, officials said the premier did not single out any ministry for his criticism.
“Mend your ways before it’s too late…before things start slipping out of our hands,” Gilani warned his cabinet colleagues in an apparent snub of their performance.
Meanwhile, a handout statement said the cabinet approved 12 proposals made by different ministries regarding bilateral cooperation with a number of countries in diverse fields.
These include; start of negotiations between Pakistan and Nigeria in trade and investment; negotiations with Syria on trade, economic and technical cooperation: negotiations regarding MoU between with Libya for closer cooperation between Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Trade Promotion Centre of Libya. The cabinet approved the Private Power and Infrastructure Board Bill, 2010 and draft Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention Bill, 2010.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2010.