ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the Sindh government on Thursday to impose heavy fines on sugar mills owners for delaying sugarcane crushing that causes problems to farmers.
Chairing a meeting on the wheat and sugar situation in the market, the prime minister ordered stern action against those involved in any wrongdoing in connection with sugar and wheat.
A source privy to the meeting told Dawn that the prime minister was informed that the Punjab government had recently passed a law under which the fine for delaying crushing of sugarcane crop had been increased up to Rs5 million per day.
“I want a similar penalty to be fixed by Sindh government for the offence,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.
He was also told that under action matrix, the departments concerned had started taking action against sugar barons involved in recent sugar scam in the country.
Under the action matrix, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) have been given tasks to probe into the scam through different angles and aspects.
A forensic audit report of the sugar inquiry commission, which was made public on May 21, some two months after the FIA submitted a report of investigations into the 2019 sugar scam, had exposed over Rs150 billion fraud in production, sale and export of the commodity every year by sugar barons, including the PTI’s ‘isolated’ leader Jahangir Tareen, a brother of federal minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Monis Elahi, a leader of PTI ally PML-Q, and the sons of PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif.
The report revealed how the sugar cartel comprising 88 mills, in collaboration with the CCP, FBR, Sugar Advisory Board and other government departments, cheated sugarcane growers and later consumers from the start of procurement of sugarcane, manufacturing of sugar and sale in the local market to export subsidy and billions of rupees’ tax evasion.
Seven groups of sugar mills were said to be the main beneficiary in the scam. They are RYK Group owned by Monis Elahi and Umar Shehryar; JDW Group owned by Jahangir Tareen, his son Ali Khan Tareen and Ahmed Ali; Sharif Group owned by Salman Shahbaz and Hamza Shahbaz; Hunza Group; Fatima Group; Al-Moiz Group and Omni Group.
The report said the groups were also major beneficiaries of Rs29 billion federal export subsidy since 2015, as RYK Group received subsidy of Rs3.94bn, JDW Group Rs3.05bn, Hunza Group Rs2.87bn, Fatima Group Rs2.3bn, Sharif Group Rs1.47bn, Al-Moiz Group Rs1.45bn and Omni Group Rs0.9bn.
Earlier in the meeting, the prime minister was apprised about current shortage of wheat flour in the market. The meeting was informed that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan had allowed import of 1.5m tons of wheat to meet local demand.
Manufacturers meet PM
The prime minister also presided over another meeting with a delegation of manufactures from various sectors, including pharma, cement, chemicals, home appliances and textile.
Representatives of various business associations also attended the meeting. Minister for Industries Mohammad Hammad Azhar, the PM’s Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, Adviser on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and senior officials were also present.
The prime minister assured the delegation that the government would provide all out support to the industrial sector and resolve their problems.
Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2020