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August 18, 2020

Sugar price soaring as per mafia’s threat to PM

Top Story

August 18, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Sugar price is soaring as per the threat conveyed by the sugar mafia to Prime Minister Imran Khan and director general FIA a few months back.

The News had reported on April 5 this year that the sugar mafia had threatened Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as DG FIA/Chairman of the Inquiry Commission Wajid Zia to immediatelystop probe into the sugar scam, otherwise the country would see severe shortage of the commodity and its price may go up to Rs 110 a kilogram.

The Commission report has been made public and the government has also announced its action plan to implement the recommendations. However, the sugar price has crossed Rs100 per kilo figure. In some areas, it is touching Rs110.

The prime minister was threatened that if the Commission continued the probe for action against those involved, the country would face one of the worst sugar crises. It was reported that Wajid Zia was told to stop the probe, otherwise the sugar price would go up to Rs110. The DG FIA had informed the PM’s Office about the threat.

Despite these threats and pressures to halt the Commission’s probe, the inquiry body not only completed its work, but the prime minister also fulfilled his promise of making the report public.

However, all government efforts to control sugar price of sugar failed. On the contrary, the sugar price continued to increase and now it has reached the figure threatened by the sugar mafia. Under the government action plan to fix the sugar mafia, seven federal and provincial institutions were assigned seven different types of criminal, regulatory and tax related proceedings against those identified in the Commission report.

Politicians owning those mills, whose forensic audit has already been done, were also required to be questioned by the NAB and other six institutions assigned different actions by the government.

Sources said the implementation of action plan was not satisfactory to the benefit of sugar mafia. The approved seven-point action plan involves seven institutions including the NAB, FIA, SECP, FBR, Competition Commission of Pakistan, SBP and provincial anti-corruption departments.

The Action Plan includes following seven points:

1. Sending a reference to NAB to investigate a total of over Rs29 billion subsidy allocated and disbursed to the sugar industry by the provincial and federal governments for the last five years.

2. The FBR was asked to investigate the income and sales tax related frauds, evasions, and Benami transactions and submit the report within 90 days.

3. The issues related to cartelization and anti-competitive collusion in the sugar industry were to be investigated by CCP. The CCP was asked to submit its report within 90 days from the date of registration of inquiry.

4. The SBP was asked to probe within 90 days issues relating to export proceeds, loans defaults/ write-offs and sale of pledged stock.

5. The FIA and SECP were asked to investigate within 90 days corporate frauds of sugar mills in the light of findings of the Commission report.

7. The provincial Anti-Corruption Establishments were asked to take action against the sugar millers' for their involvement in various offences under the provincial laws such as payment to cane growers below the support price and illegal deductions on account of weight of cane. The ACEs were also asked to submit their reports within 90 days.