Sugar elite’s meticulous business intelligence, dirty espionage or lethal desperation?

October 19, 2021

LAHORE: The sugar industry has been accused of indulging in what one may call meticulous business intelligence, dirty espionage or lethal desperation to build its case by using stolen official...

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LAHORE: The sugar industry has been accused of indulging in what one may call meticulous business intelligence, dirty espionage or lethal desperation to build its case by using stolen official record.

Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) has been accused of spying on official record and correspondence/communication among different government departments dealing with sugar price and demand & supply issues.

The stolen official record, sources alleged, has been presented by PSMA representatives at appellate committee meeting convened by Ministry of National Food Security & Research held on October 05, 2021 in Islamabad to build counter-argument against rational behind steps taken by the government to ensure smooth supply of sugar at affordable prices.

The government functionaries participated in the meeting, which was arranged to discuss price fixation of sugar, have been stunned when they found copies of official letters and WhatsApp communication among various government administration with PSMA members regarding sugar price, supply and demand and distribution mechanism.

The official documents and other record produced by management of sugar mills include official correspondence between different ministries and one of the highest executive authorities in addition to voice messages of district administration about streamlining sugar supply chain. So much so, sugar mill owners have with them latest correspondence having noting of one of the senior most authorities of the country.

Such dirty tactics, sources claimed, added fuel to the tension between authorities and sugar mill owners, igniting latest round of acrimonious relations between two parties, prompting government to take series of extreme measures against management of sugar mills including arrests.

It's is further alleged that PSMA through various means used to systematically source official correspondence in this connection for using it in its favour. It is learnt that official documents are not only collected from government departments by utilizing every mean but day-to-day activities of high ups are also monitored, alleged sources.

On the very next day of PSMA’s snub to bureaucrats, Additional Cane Commissioner Punjab issued a warning letter to staff concerned “consequent upon the unauthorized production of recordings of telephonic conversations and other privileged communications, by some of the sugar mill owners before an Appellate forum in Islamabad”.

It is intimated in the letter that no officer or staff of the Cane Commissioner's office shall make or receive a telephonic call to any of the sugar mill owners or any member of the management of the sugar mills. Only written or electronic communication shall be made with the occupiers/owners or management of the sugar mills with prior approval of the draft by the Cane Commissioner.

The staff has been conveyed the instructions in this regard for strict compliance. Copy of this rare communication were sent to the offices of Chief Minister, Chief Secretary Punjab, and the Secretary, provincial Food Department as well as Secretary General, PSMA (Punjab Zone).

When contacted about allegation leveled against sugar industry representatives of stealing official correspondence, Secretary General PSMA, Hassan Iqbal was of the view that this is all wrong perception about the PSMA. No Information has ever been stolen like that, he said.

We believe in transparency and at the same time such Information is never a secret, he hastened to add. Under Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, all Government Departments are bound to make everything public, he observed.

On such allegations, we reserve the right to take legal actions against those who level such baseless allegations, PSMA Secretary General concluded.

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