ISLAMABAD - In a major development on Thursday, the government made public sugar inquiry commission’s report following the approval of the Federal Cabinet. The much-awaited report identifies Jahangir Tareen, Moonis Elahi, Shehbaz Sharif family, Omni Group and Umar Sheharyar as main characters responsible for sugar crisis in the country

Information Minister Shibli Faraz while giving a briefing to the media in Islamabad said the PTI government is firmly committed to accountability and transparency in governance. After the Special Cabinet meeting chaired by PM Imran Khan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shahzad Akbar and Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Special Assistant to PM Shahbaz Gill addressed a joint press conference.

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar said Sugar Inquiry Commission was established to ascertain the reasons of increase in sugar prices in the last few years. He said the commission gave its detailed report to special cabinet meeting held on Thursday.

Shahzad Akbar said the report explicitly says that sugar mill owners pay amount to sugarcane growers even less than the support price. In addition, all sugar mills make cuts in the weight of sugarcane from 15 to 30 percent.

Shahzad Akbar said Commission also found irregularities in the form of giving advance payments to farmers in the form of cash or commodity, which is akin to unregulated banking.

Mirza Shahzad Akbar said the day was very important in history of Pakistan as no government ever made such commissions in the past. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan also directed all government advisors to declare their assets to ensure transparency.

A subsidy of Rs29b given to sugar industry in last 5 years

Shahzad Akbar said a subsidy of 29 billion rupees was given to sugar industry in the last five years.  

He said it was found that total income tax of around 88 sugar mills of the country is ten billion rupees, after getting a tax refund. He said six big groups of Pakistan have a 51 percent share of sugar industry.

The forensic audit report in its findings recommended filing of cases against those found guilty in sugar crisis. Meanwhile, the forensic audit report also suggested that the recovered amount from the sugar mafia should be disbursed among farmers who faced exploitation on part of this sugar mafia since decades.

Shahzad Akbar said that the inquiry Commission held responsible regulators for sugar crisis in the country as owing to their negligence, sugar crisis developed and sugar prices soared in the country.

The Inquiry Commission also recommend to forward these cases to NAB, FIA and anti-corruption, said Shahzad Akbar adding that further recommendations will be developed after Eid-ul-Fitar on instructions of Prime Minister Imran khan.

Akbar said the PTI fulfilled its promise to ensure transparent accountability in the country. He said that erstwhile PTI regime, any government in the country had never dare to constitute such a Commission to probe such mega scams.

Mirza Shahzad Akbar said that Prime Minister Imran khan and his Cabinet decided to make public the inquiry report adding that being nation, we are on right track of accountability.

Shahzad Akbar said that inquiry committee drafted a detailed report and in its findings, the inquiry Commission pointed out that sugar mills mafia used to exploit farmers and pay them less than subsidised price of their sugarcane. The sugar mills also exploit farmers in making weight of sugar cane and use to make 15 percent cuts while weighing sugarcane of farmers.

Sugar mills use to exploit farmers and growers of sugarcane by buying their crop through Commission agents and at informal price lists. While engaging Commission agents to buy sugarcane from farmers, they use to show mega price contrary to actual price they had paid to growers.

Shahzad Akbar said that in 2019, sugarcane was purchased leas than Rs.140 per mound (40kg) while sugar mills use to exploit farmers and growers by making 15-30 percent cuts in actual weights for sugarcane. On one side, sugar mills exploited farmers and growers while increased sugar prices exorbitantly. The sugar mills mafia fixed per kg prices of sugar at Rs 51 while at this time, the cost value of sugar was Rs 38 per kg.

Shahzad Akbar also stated that in 2018-19, there was difference of price for one kilogram of sugar upto Rs12 while in 2019-20, this difference was increased to Rs.16 per kilogram.

The mills owners use to exploit farmers through unofficial banking mechanism as well.

SAPM to PM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said that Prime Minister Imran khan use to say that anyone doing business in politics will ultimately do the business and prefer his business interests and all these findings proved saying of Prime Minister Imran khan. He also added that if prices of sugar are increased by Rs.1 per one kilogram, the mills owners’ gains profit of Rs.5.2 billion.

There is massive difference for imports and exports for Pakistan with Afghanistan. A truck carries 15-20 tons of goods while in our part of world, a truck carries 70-80 tons of sugar from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

He also added that in the family company of Shehbaz Sharif double reporting found in 2017-18 and they profit extra Rs.1.3 billion while in 2018-19 they profited extra up to Rs.780 millions.

The advisor to PM on Accountability also revealed that sugar mills of Jehangir Tareen also found accomplice in double billing and over invoicing and also found involved in corporate frauds.

He also added that Khusro Bakhtiyar does not own sugar mills but his brother owns that sugar mills and being owner he does not hold any public office. We can’t hold accountable Khusro Bakhtiyar for the mills his brother owns. In the forensic audit, among short listed mills includes Alliance mills owned by ARY Group, in which share of Monis Elahi is found about 34 percent.

The prime minister had decided to make public the findings of Inquiry Committee adding that forensic audit of other sugar mills will also be made. He also unveiled that Sindh government provides subsidy of 9.3billions rupees to provide profit to Omni group.

In 2019-20, the federal government did not announce any subsidy while during the tenure of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, subsidy was given in 2018. Shahzad Akbar also said that during last five years, sugar mills were provided subsidy of 29 billions of rupees. He also added that on medicines issue, inquiry is under process.

Meanwhile, Advisor to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said that all the unelected members of cabinet have been directed to submit details of their assets. He said that PTI government aims at exposing mafia and to bring positive change in the country.