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September 19, 2020

ACE receives 2,507 complaints against sugar mills

Lahore

September 19, 2020

LAHORE:The Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) is set to act against 44 sugar mills in the province that farmers say have under-weighed or underpriced their sugarcane supply, The News has learnt.

The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab has received at least 2,507 complaints from sugarcane growers against sugar mills, Abdul Salam Arif, ACE Director Vigilance, told The News. He said at least 1,363 complaints were of farmers about being paid less than the support price announced by the government and 641 of not having been paid at all; and 503 of illegal weight deduction. Most of the complaints were received from Southern Punjab, he said. The ACE received the complaints by growers in open courts held in different sugarcane growing regions of the province on the directions of ACE Director-General Gohar Nafees.

A farmer from Chiniot district, seeking anonymity, complained of what he called exploitation at the hands of sugar mills. “The weight of sugarcane is deducted illegally and we are not given the price fixed by the government.” A decision about a legal action on the complaints will be taken in a meeting to be held in a fortnight, the director said.

Earlier, an inquiry commission established by Prime Minister Imran Khan reported a series of misdeeds by sugar mills, including fudging the production cost to claim subsidies, manipulating the market, underreporting their sales, committing fraud and exploiting farmers. However, the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) rejected the FIA-led inquiry commission’s forensic report on the shortage and price hike of the sweetener in recent times, saying it had made mistakes and distorted figures.

Our correspondent adds: The ACE arrested four accused. One of the accused, Rana Imtiaz, former medical superintendent of Bahawalnagar District headquarters Hospital, was on pre-arrest bail in Rs 10 million corruption case.