Petition seeking action against sugar, flour mills owners moved in IHC

ISLAMABAD    –  A writ petition seeking legal action against the sugar and flour mills owners pointed out by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in its report was moved in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here on Friday.

In this matter, Muhammad Zaman Gillani moved the court through his counsel Rana Ahmad Raza Advocate and cited Federation of Pakistan through Secretary Ministry of Textile Industry, Secretary Ministry of National Food Security & Research, Director General FIA, Chairman National Accountability Bureau, Government of the Punjab through its Chief Minister and others as respondents.

The petitioner stated that the FIA submitted an investigation report into the sugar and wheat crisis which was ordered by Prime Minister Imran Khan in February, 2020. When the two preliminary inquiry reports were presented to him, he ordered them to be made public. The reports pointing to sudden price hikes of sugar and wheat were released immediately without any “alteration or tampering.”

He added that Pakistan’s flour crisis became acute during the second half of 2019, affecting major cities such as Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore, with prices shooting up to Rs.70/- per kilogram in some areas.

The petitioner further said that despite the ban on wheat export imposed in July 2019, the government allowed exports of 48,000 tons, which fuelled the price hike in the country. Over the course of a few months, wheat stocks plunged to approximately 4.2 million tons – barely enough to meet consumer demand for two months. Simultaneously sugar vanished from the markets resulting in enormous price rise.

He continued that the price of sugar increased from Rs.55 per kg in December 2018 to Rs.105 per kg in October, 2020, despite the fact that the General Sales Tax (GST) increase was implemented from July 1, 2019 only. Sugar prices started rising in the local market immediately after the export of sugar was allowed in January 2019.

The petitioner mentioned that the report also revealed that in the past few years the production of sugar was historically more than the local requirements, therefore it was imperative to probe and include this aspect related to the export of sugar including any subsidy given, its impact on local sugar prices and eventually major beneficiaries of such export subsidies.

“The probe into the increase in sugar price by the FIA commission found out that the export of sugar was not justified and the exporters, including prominent members of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) i.e. Mr. Jahangir Tareen and Mr. Khusro Bakhtiar etc., benefitted in two ways by gaining subsidy and then fetching huge profit from the increasing sugar prices in the local market,” said the petition.

Therefore, he requested the court to accept this writ petition and issue directions regarding initiation of legal action against the Sugar & Flour Mills Owners pointed out by the Federal Investigation Agency in its report including respondent No.24 (Jahangir Tareen) and respondents may be directed to recover the amount of subsidy given to them by the Government as well as amount of corruption committed by the Sugar & Flour Mills Owners and they may be dealt with in accordance with law.

He also prayed that the respondents may be directed that the amount recovered from the culprits may be used to decrease inflation in all over the Pakistan in the larger interest of public at large.

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