ISLAMABAD:June 10, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has ordered an inquiry into the sugar scam and reaffirmed that anyone involved in it would not be spared.He also issued directives for bringing down the prices of sugar.
Chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet , the prime minister had approved a massive investigation through accountability organizations against the ‘sugar cartel’ allegedly involved in a multi-billion rupee scam for the past 25 years.
According to a press release, the cabinet approved investigation against the sugar industry as the prime minister stuck to his position that action should be taken against everyone involved in the scam irrespective of their status and political affiliation.
The meeting was informed that action against 88 sugar mill owners was expected in the light of recommendations made in the recent Sugar Forensic Commission (SFC) report that exposed several bigwigs in the scam, including Jahangir Tareen, federal minister Khusro Bakhtiar’s brother, and Salman Shahbaz , sons of Shahbaz Sharif, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly. Subsidies given by the federal or provincial governments, including the PTI government in Punjab, will be investigated.
The PM was informed that NAB would investigate the Rs29 billion given in subsidies to sugar mills on export during the last five years. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is likely to probe charges of fraud in sales tax, the practice by mill owners to understate their incomes and to carry out benami transactions. The FBR was directed to ensure that adjudication on cases and recoveries start within 90 days.
The cabinet for also informed that National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) will investigate allegations like creating artificial shortage, profiteering, tax evasion and receiving undue export subsidies against sugar barons.
The cabinet also approved investigation of constellation by the CCP after reports emerged that sugar mills were minting money through price manipulation. A new team was constituted for the task and told to submit its report within 90 days. The SBP will investigate the companies that showed fake exports and were involved in default on loans or sold pledged stocks. The SBP will submit a report to the finance ministry within 90 days and mention companies and their frauds by name, besides imposing heavy fines on violators.
PM’s directives, a committee will be formed to determine the cost of production and the price of sugar. The committee will be headed by Industries Minister Hammad Azhar. SiIimilarly, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) will investigate corporate fraud, stock fraud, shareholder fraud and other types of corporate fraud. FIA will investigate the matter of fake exports to Afghanistan and money laundering.