ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said the government had decided to send the Rs 29 billion sugar subsidy matter to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for criminal investigation.

While addressing a news conference along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz, the SAPM said the prime minister had approved his recommendation under which a reference covering last five-year subsidies and previous subsidies of 20-25 years would be sent to the NAB.

He said the government wanted to hold a thorough and transparent investigation so that all those who had violated rules and regulations, and received illegal benefits and caused damage to the national kitty could be brought to book no matter how powerful or influential they were.

“The report of the Inquiry Commission on sugar scam will be made a precedent to ensure across the board accountability in the country and every corrupt element will be taken to task,” said Special Advisor to Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Barrister Shahzad Akbar on Sunday. Shahzad Akbar said that public voted PTI to power in the elections of 2018 to ensure merit and accountability in the country. He said anyone irrespective of his powers and political affiliations will be taken to task for all the wrongdoings he had made.

He said Sugar Commission Report had been unveiled to held across the board accountability for corrupt and wrongdoers, said Shahzad Akbar adding that all corrupt elements will be expose before public. He added that views from industry experts and from public will be sought relating to action on finding of sugar investigation report.

SAPM Shahzad Akbar said that the inquiry report had revealed that regulators were not working in this sector and it was sheer monopoly of the sugar industry which was pursuing agendas to maximize their profits. He said the Sugar Mafia being part of all major political parties was playing key role in decision making and influencing subsequent strategies and policies on sugar sector.

 

These elements were in power corridors since decades to influence sugar prices in view of their whims and wishes, he added. He mentioned that Prime Minister Imran khan in his public address had promised with the nation to probe sugar scams and all subsequent inquiry reports will be made public.

 

Shahzad Akbar also pinpointed that in the five years Forensic Audit report, there are reports of mismanagement on sales tax and Benami transactions and all this issue is being dispatched to FBR and FBR has a been assigned to draft recovery report on these scams in 90 days.

 

He also added that Competence Commission will also probe connivance in sugar industry within next 90 days and all subsequent fraudulent elements will be fined accordingly. The sugar inquiry Commission has also found some evidences to seek subsidy on account of forged export documents, said Shahzad Akbar adding that action has also been directed against all such fraudulent elements.

 

In all these corrupt practices, State Bank of Pakistan has been assigned to hold inquiry in 90 days, said Shahzad Akbar. All findings in sugar scam relating corporate fraud are being assigned to FIA and Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

Fake exports and subsequent money laundering issued are being dispatched to FIA, said Shahzad Akbar adding that there are evidences that sugar exports made in files was not made in reality and on account of exports black money was legalized in the country in the past.

 

Meanwhile, Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz while speaking with the media said Pakistan was deprived of progress owing the corruption of past rulers. He said PTI raised the slogan of accountability and will fulfill its responsibilities and promises made with people of Pakistan to ensure accountability in the country. He said that on special instructions of Prime Minister Imran khan, Commission was form d to probe sugar scams to dugout information how sugar prices surges in the country. There are many influential individuals in sugar sector and the rulers in the past utilized this potential for their vested interests.

 

The minister also stated that in the past, scores of investigation Commissions were formed but their respective reports were never made public; it is first time that people of Pakistan are being known to corrupt elements. He also added that no doubt that no doubt there were some big names in the sugar scam report but the prime minister announced to public the report and relevant finding.

 

The information minister said that PPP leadership doing politics on Coronavirus issue and making perplexity in the public on this issue. He said that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been trying to hide wrong policies by appearing in press conferences in a routine.

 

Responding to a query, SAPM Shahzad Akbar said that the issue of farmers’ exploitation by sugar mills is being dispatched to provincial anti corruption departments. He said sugar stock is being linked with FBR and third-party will review cost of sugar adding that Ministry of Industries will take prompt action for reduction in sugar prices.

 

Earlier, SAPM on accountability and Interior Barrister Shahzad Akbar briefed the Prime Minister on action matrix stating that they are prepared in the light of recommendations of cabinet on the findings of sugar inquiry commission report taking all due legal process in consideration.

 

PM lauded Shahzad Akbar for his effort to take investigations to logical end and hoped a new era of (self) accountability would start in the country once the action matrix is implemented in the letter and spirit.

 

The cabinet on May 21 while approving making inquiry commission report public asked SPAM on accountability and interior to look into four major areas -government systems and regulatory regime, what penal actions can be taken by different government agencies against the owners involved in wrongdoings, a time frame for government agencies to make recoveries from mill owners and formulation of a sugar policy.

 

Barrister Shahzad Akbar explained seven points action matrix to the meeting describing future course of action by different government agencies concerned to take the findings of inquiry commission to the logical end to make sure that those found guilty of committing frauds and deceiving people of Pakistan would face the music. “PTI government under the leadership of PM Imran Khan is the first government ever in Pakistan that has initiated a self-accountability process in the country,” he told the meeting.

 

The meeting approved sending a reference to NAB as recommended by action matrix to investigate total of over Rs.29 Billion subsidy allocated and disbursed to Sugar industry by Provincial and Federal Government from last five years including subsidy given by PTI government under the timeline provided by National Accountability Ordinance.

 

Shahzad Akbar informed the meeting that NAB would also be requested to probe the issue of subsidies given to Sugar industry from 1985 onwards and to initiate the criminal prosecution where evidence of misuse of authority related to subsidy issues are found.

 

The inquiry commission pointed out the corporate frauds committed by sugar mills through associated companies like JWD committed corporate fraud of Rs3.6 billion through over-valued purchase of associated company JK farming Systems Ltd.

 

 The action matrix referred further investigations of corporate frauds of sugar mills in the light of findings of the commission report to both Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).

 

Both the agencies are asked to submit their findings to federal government within 90 days.

Potential issues of fake export of sugar to Afghanistan and money-laundering came forward during investigations of the inquiry commission are referred to FIA. The agency is asked to investigate the various federal laws offenses relate to potentially fake exports to Afghanistan and money laundering through bulk cash transactions within 90 days. The inquiry commission also found sugar millers involved in various offences under provincial laws such as payment to cane-growers below the support price and illegal deductions on account of weight of cane.

 

The action matrix referred all such potential offences to Anti-Corruption Establishments (ACE) of Punjab, KP and Sindh provinces for further investigations. The ACEs of the provinces will also submit their reports within 90 days. Meanwhile, Info Minister Shibli Faraz responding to a query on NAB recited poetry, “He knows his seriousness in the view of his conscience but Faraz you have to keep continued from your side.”