Friday December 09, 2022

Sugar, wheat crisis: PM Imran to take action against profiteers after forensic report

I await detailed forensic reports now by the high-powered commission, which will come out on 25 April, says PM Imran

By Web Desk
April 05, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan. Photo: File

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said he would take action against those responsible for the sugar and wheat price hike after he sees the detailed forensic report of the preliminary findings.

"I await the detailed forensic reports now by the high-powered commission, which will come out on 25 April, before taking action," the prime minister said in a tweet.

“After these reports come out no powerful lobby will be able to profiteer at the expense of our public,” said the premier. He added that the preliminary reports into sudden price hikes of sugar and wheat have been released immediately without and “alteration or tampering”.

“This is unprecedented in Pakistan’s history. Previous political leaderships because of their vested interests and compromises lacked the moral courage to order and release such reports,” the prime minister added.

Opposition reacts

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has said that the report was an indictment against the prime minister and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb urged the government to take action against those involved in the crisis.

“We have a report that proves what we had been saying about these two [Tareen, Bakhtiar] all along. Action needs to be taken against them,” the PML-N leader told Geo News.

She added that the individuals should be removed from their post, adding that the PM should not wait till April 25.

Rs22 billion subsidies given during PML-N’s last four years: Awan

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information  Firdous Ashiq Awan on Sunday said subsidy amounting to Rs22 billion was granted by PML-N during its last four years.

Addressing a press conference in Sialkot, Awan said Shahbaz Sharif’s son Suleman Shehbaz has also been named in the report.

“The report says Suleman was paid subsidy amounting to more than Rs1billion. Action will be taken against anyone whose name has been identified in the report,” she said.

Responding to Awan’s statement, Suleman said there was no truth to the figures quoted in the report.

“These figures were planted by Imran Khan and his cronies,” he said.

‘Government bigwigs and allies benefited from sugar crisis’

A report by the Federal Investigation Agency released on Saturday claims that top PTI members were among those who gained from the recent sugar crisis in the country. An investigation into the crisis had been ordered by Prime Minister Imran Khan in February.

Among the people named in the FIA report are Jahangir Tareen and a brother of Minister for National Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar.

Tareen was said by the report to have benefitted the most from the sugar crisis followed by Bakhtiar's brother.

The report also claims that the companies belonging to Moonis Elahi — an ally of the party — profited from the sugar crisis. Elahi is Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi's son and a key member of the PML-Q.

The document does not mention under whose influence Punjab government issued subsidies to sugar mills or why the Economic Coordination Council (ECC) approved the decision to export sugar.

Reacting to the report, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said he had faith that whatever the situation, Prime Minister Imran Khan "will ensure justice".

'Lack of planning led to wheat crisis'

The prime minister was also sent the investigation report on the wheat crisis, compiled by a three-member bench headed by Wajid Zia. As per the report, the crisis originated due to poor planning by the centre and provincial governments.

The report states that the Punjab Food Department was unable to control flour mills and started collecting wheat after a delay of 20-22 days.

It further mentioned that the food department failed to come up with a process for the demand and supply of the product. The report claimed that did not take decisions as the situation evolved.

Former food secretary Naseem Sadiq and ex-food director Zafar Iqbal have been blamed in the report for failing to handle the wheat crisis. Furthermore, the report claims that Punjab food minister Samiullah Chaudhry did not take the measures necessitated by the situation.