Govt. goes public with the forensic report on sugar probe commission


ISLAMABAD: In a major development, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government Thursday made public a forensic report of the Sugar Inquiry Commission which was constituted to probe the irregularities in the sugar industry.
Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting Shibli Faraz addressing a press conference along with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar after the special cabinet meeting shared the details of the report.
Shibli Faraz said that the PTI government is firmly committed to accountability and transparency in governance. He said the commission gave its detailed report to special cabinet meeting.
Shahzad Akbar said the report explicitly says that sugar mill owners pay amount to sugar cane growers even less than the support price. In addition, all sugar mills make cuts in the weight of sugarcane from 15 to 30 percent.
Akbar said Commission also found irregularities in the form of giving advance payments to farmers in the form of cash or commodity, which is akin to unregulated banking.
Shahzad Akbar said a subsidy of Rs29 billion rupees was given to sugar industry in the last five years. He said it was found that total income tax of around 88 sugar mills of the country is Rs10 billion, after getting a tax refund. He said six big groups of Pakistan have a 51 percent share of sugar industry.
Describing the report as unprecedented, the PM’s accountability aide said no government has ever made such commissions in the past. He said that the Prime Minister has also directed all his advisers and special assistants to declare the details of their assets.
According to the report, PTI former secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen and a brother of ex-minister for National Food Security Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar were the major beneficiaries of the sugar crisis.
As per the findings of the report, the companies owned and controlled by Jahangir Khan Tareen (JDW) exported 17.24% of its total production and availed 22.71% of the total export subsidy amounting to Rs561 million.
The companies owned and controlled by Makhdum Omer Sheryar – a relative of Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar – (RYK Group) had exported 31.17% of its total production and availed 18.31% of the total export subsidy amounting to Rs452 million.
The committee also found that the Punjab government was providing the subsidy for export of sugar at a time when the price of the commodity was increasing in the domestic market.
On the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Wajid Zia conducted a forensic investigation of the recent sugar crisis that hit the country earlier this year.
“The commission traced irregularities in the form of giving advance payments to farmers in the form of cash or commodity, which is akin to unregulated banking,” he added.
On April 4, the preliminary findings of the commission on the sugar and wheat crises were made public on instructions of the prime minister.
To further expand the findings, the Premier had directed the committee on sugar to conduct a forensic analysis of its findings.
The Prime Minister had constituted two high-powered committees headed by the FIA DG to probe into circumstances that led to the wheat and flour controversy and the reasons behind the increase in sugar prices in the country.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that development of merged areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is top priority of the government.
The Prime Minister said this while chairing a high-level meeting here on Thursday on development issues of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, reforms regarding next budget, provincial economic situation in the context of corona virus and future course of action.
The Prime Minister called for accelerating the process of institutional reforms to reduce the non-essential expenditures. He directed to keep people abreast on economic situation of the province in view of coronavirus.
Imran Khan said out of box solutions need to be focused on in the next budget. He said promotion of public private partnership should be a focus of attention in development projects so that not only development needs are met but also the burden on government is reduced due to increased role of private sector in development process.
Deliberating on issues relating to energy, the Prime Minister directed to devise future course of action in consultation with Ministry of Energy to harness the potential of the province.
The meeting was given a detailed briefing on progress in establishment of Rashakai Special Economic Zone and implementation of Swat Motorway Phase-II. – TLTP