Prime Minister Khan orders forensic audit of 10 sugar mills [The Nation] 05 Apr, 2020

ISLAMABAD - The reports of the inquiry committees tasked to probe sugar and wheat crises in the country have been made public while the prime minister has directed forensic analysis of 10 sugar mills to further expand the findings. The prime minister had constituted two high-powered committees under Director General Federal Investigation Agency and comprising a senior officer of Intelligence Bureau and DG Anti Corruption Establishment Punjab to investigate the causes behind the crises and price hike of the said commodities. After the formation of the said committees, the prime minister had repeatedly resolved to expose and penalize those found responsible for the sugar and wheat crises to avoid the recurrence of such acts. On submission of Inquiry reports from both the committees, certain additional questions were also referred to the bodies seeking further clarifications. The committees had furnished separate main and supplementary reports to address the further queries raised by the Prime Minister House. The committee on wheat crisis comprised DG FIA Wajid Zia, Deputy DG IB Mubarak Zeb and DG Anti Corruption Punjab Muhammad Gohar Nafees. The committee on the subject of sugar consisted of DG FIA Wajid Zia, Deputy DG IB Ahmad Kamal and DG Anti Corruption Establishment Punjab Muhammad Goher Nafees. 15 sugar mills benefitted from subsidy including ones owned by Tareen The committees had held series of meetings with all the stakeholders including the federal ministries, Federal Board of Revenue, mills associations and relevant provincial departments. In pursuance of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf and Prime Minister Imran khan’s firm belief on transparency and accountability as basic ingredients of democracy and good governance, the prime minister decided to make both the reports and additional answers public. In its 32-page report, the committee on sugar price hike termed the export of sugar unjustified which increased the sugar price in the local market. The exporters gained benefits in two ways; first, they got subsidy and secondly, they made profit by increasing price locally. Fifteen sugar mills benefitted from the subsidy including the ones owned by PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, Shamim Ahmed Khan and Makhdum Omer Shahryar (relative of federal minister Makhdum Khuso Bakhtiar) with Chaudhry Munir and Monis Elahi as partners in the group. These three groups availed a total subsidy of 57.49 percent that amounts to Rs 1.4 billion out of total subsidy of around 2.4 billion. However, in continuation of probe being carried out by the inquiry committee on sugar prices, the federal government through a cabinet decision expanded the scope of said body to an Inquiry Commission by conferring powers given under The Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act 2017. The commission is further carrying out forensic analysis to expand on the findings of the inquiry committee. The commission is carrying out the forensic analysis of 10 sugar mills including Alliance Sugar Mills, Ghotki, Al-Arabia Sugar Mills, Sargodha, Al Moiz Sugar Mills, DI Khan and Mianwali, Hamza Sugar Mills, Rahim Yar Khan Hunza Sugar Mills, Faisalabad and Jhang, JDW 1, 2, 3 sugar mills of Rahim Yar Khan and Ghotki which produce about 26 percent sugar in the country. READ MORE:Russia approves 'Energy Policy' until 2035 The commission is due to complete its task on 25th April 2020. After the commission finalizes its report, its findings will also be made public and any corrective and/or punitive measures required or recommended will be taken by the federal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The inquiry committee, however, recommends immediate crackdown on the satta players as satta at major sugar market is already crossing Rs 100 per kg for Ramdan. Moreover, it called for ensuring to lift the sold sugar in appropriate amount so that the supply remains adequate. READ MORE:Russia maintains oil cooperation with Venezuelan, communicates on OPEC+ level Regarding wheat, the committee found that the PASSCO failed to meet its procurement targets and the ministry failed to grasp market situation and timely advice for import of the wheat. For Punjab, the committee called Ex-Food Secretary Naeem Sadiq and Ex-Director Food Punjab Zafar Iqbal for their failure to meet procurement targets. Provincial Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry is responsible for not devising any reforms agenda to address chronic ailments in the department. The responsibility in Sindh lies with the whole cabinet for not approving the procurement and for KP, Ex-Secretary Food Akbar Khan and Ex-Director Food Saadat Hussain and Food Minister Qalandar Lodhi stood responsible for failing to meet procurement targets. READ MORE:Caracas condemns EU for endorsing US plan on setting transitional Venezuelan Government Meanwhile, Jahangir Khan Tareen and Moonis Elahi took to twitter to respond to a swirl of speculation on social media regarding their alleged role in the sugar crisis. Tareen said in a tweet that his companies exported 12.28% while his market share is 20% “so less than he could have.” Export was on first come, first served basis and of the total Rs 3billion subsidy received, Rs 2.5 billion came when PML-N was in power, and he was in opposition, he said. Chaudhry Moonis Elahi tweeted: “I indirectly hold shares of RYK Sugar Mills, but am not involved with management of the company. As shown in the report here RYK Mills has a 3.14% share in national export. As I welcome the report I hope people will quote this truthfully and responsibly.” Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar in a statement also said that due to any perceived conflict of interest, he never attended the ECC meetings related to any sugar-related decisions.

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