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April 7, 2020

Sugar crisis: Khusro Bakhtyar claims he is being unjustly maligned

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April 7, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar on Monday asked Prime Minister Imran Khan that his name was unjustly maligned with regard to the sugar crisis besides requesting to relieve him of the responsibilities as Minister for National Food Security and Research.

In his letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan he said, “Given the recent developments surrounding the issue of the sugar sector, my name is unjustly maligned…I would request you to kindly give due consideration to my letter and relieve me of my responsibilities as Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research.”

It is pertinent to mention here that after this letter Prime Minister Imran Khan has changed his portfolio and given him the charge for the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Khusro Bakhtyar in his letter said, “As you are very well aware Sir, I have always distanced myself from anything related to the sugar industry. Even in the ECC meeting, chaired by Asad Umer (then Finance Minister) I, (as Federal Minister for Planning) excused myself on the day on which the sugar sector export permission was to be discussed.”

“Asad Umer is on record stating my stance that I excused myself from any such meeting. Furthermore, the portfolio assigned to me at that time was of Planning and Development, which has no direct bearing on this discussion,” he said.

He said: “Sir, you have four months ago assigned me the responsibility of National Food Security and Research and I feel that given its direct bearing on various crops in Pakistan, there is an overlap with sugarcane as well.”

While further dilating upon it he said, “In light of any foreseeable conflict of interest, I requested that you might relieve me of my responsibilities as Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research.”

“Furthermore, Punjab finance minister, who happens to be my brother, has always maintained the same stance. The views of the Finance Department in Punjab in relation to provision of subsidy to the sector (cabinet meeting dated 29.12.2018) are also matter of public record which state that subsidies create economic distortion and should not be encouraged, which is reflective of the fact that the views of Finance Ministry remain independent and above any self-interest or influence. The Cabinet, however, is free to decide based on the recommendations of all concerned, in this case the Food Department,” he said.