NAB vows to take action over sugar, wheat scam

Published April 22, 2020
Restructuring of CCP approved by cabinet; NAB to probe "every aspect" of the sugar and wheat scandal. — AFP/File
Restructuring of CCP approved by cabinet; NAB to probe "every aspect" of the sugar and wheat scandal. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The executive board of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday decided to take action against those involved in creating rece­n­tly a shortage of sugar and wheat flour in the country.

A meeting of the executive board presided over by NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal “approved conducting of comprehensive investigations of prime mega scam of wheat and sugar, including billions of rupees looting, price hike, smuggling and subsidy on sugar,” said a press release issued by the NAB headquarters.

Meanwhile, the federal cabinet approved restructuring of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to make it a powerful and effective government entity.

“The cabinet approved restructuring of CCP which was playing in the hands of powerful cartels and safeguarding their interests and facilitating them in courts,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Infor­mation and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said in a press conference after the cabinet meeting.

She said the cabinet approved the restructuring plan under which CCP officials sitting in their positions for years would be changed and its appellate tribunal would be completed to dispose of pending cases involving Rs27 billion.

Dr Awan said the sugar mills association and wheat flour mills association had to pay Rs27bn to the government but got stay orders from the courts. “Some of these cases were pending for over 11 years,” she said.

She said the government would not tolerate any collaboration of state institutions with cartels and the policies that were against the interests of people.

On April 5, two inquiry reports on the recent sugar and wheat crises were made public, exposing Jahangir Tareen of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Minister for Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar, Monis Elahi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and others for their alleged involvement in the scam.

The NAB executive board authorised inquiries against officers of the Capital Development Authority, management of a private housing scheme called River Garden Housing Society and probes into mega corruption in the Pakistan Petroleum Limited.

It accorded approval for referring complaints against management of International Islamic University and others to a relevant department as per law.

The meeting approved closing of inquiries against officials of the Privatisation Commission of Pakistan; retired Justice Malik Qayyum, former Attorney General of Pakistan; Prof Dr Ikramullah Khan, Head of Dermatology, PIMS, Islamabad; managing committee of Interior Employees Cooperative Housing Society, Raja Ali Akbar and others because of lack of evidence.

During the meeting, Justice Iqbal said that NAB always believed in concentrating on merits of case without caring about the face behind the case and taking it to the logical conclusion.

He said the bureau had filed 610 corruption references in various accountability courts during the past two years.

“NAB under the leadership of Justice Javed Iqbal has directly or indirectly recovered record Rs 78 billion from corrupt elements in last two years and deposited the money in the national exchequer,” the press release said.

The performance of NAB, he said, had already been acknowledged by reputed international organisations, including the World Economic Forum.

Currently 1,275 corruption references having accumulated value of Rs943bn were under trial in various accountability courts, he said.

The NAB chairman urged people and the regulator to play their role to check the mushroom growth of illegal housing societies.

He asked print and electronic media to confirm authenticity, including availability of land, approval of layout plan and NOC, from the relevant regulator, of a housing society before printing/ broadcasting the advertisement campaign.

“This is essential as some housing societies exist only on paper and they do not have approval from the relevant regulator and later cheat people due to their attractive advertisements,” he added.

Justice Iqbal directed all regional heads of NAB to take complaint verification, inquiries and investigation within the prescribed time frame.

He also directed investigation officers, prosecutors to pursue the cases with complete preparations, collect concrete evidence as per law so that the corrupt elements could be punished.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2020

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