ISLAMABAD - Blaming the PML-N government and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Wednesday said that a subsidy of 29 billion rupees was given to sugar industry in the last five years.

Addressing a press conference, Shahzad Akbar said that the PTI-led federal government had never given any kind of subsidy and only allowed export of surplus sugar, whereas PTI-led Punjab Government had given subsidy of just 2.4 billion rupees.

“In PML-N’s tenure, more than Rs26 billion worth of subsidies were given,” he said.

Terming it a criminal act, he added that permission to export 400,000 tonnes of sugar was given in March 2017.

He said previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz granted 26.6 billion rupees worth of subsidy. He said former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, alone, had given a subsidy of 20 billion rupees to benefit Salman Shahbaz.

The special assistant said the report from the sugar probing commission was presented before the federal cabinet, which decided to make it public. The investors profited from fluctuations in sugar prices while the common people and farmers bore the brunt, he added.

PM Imran, he underlined, had formed a commission to probe the fluctuation in sugar prices and the consequent report was made public as soon as it was received.

The Special Assistant said that the opposition parties, especially the spokespersons of PML-N were misinterpreting the sugar inquiry report. He prompted the critics to study the lengthy document again.

“Maybe some of our friends did not read the report properly. Perhaps the Opposition didn’t understand it as the report is in English and was lengthy,” Akbar said.

“Audit matters have been reviewed in the report,” he noted, adding that a very important portion in it was the amount of subsidy given by PML-N and specifically by Abbasi.

Subsidies were given due to “mismanagement in determining the production prices”, he said.

“Salman Shehbaz was the facilitator of the sugar subsidies,” Akbar claimed, adding that PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had said there was no link between the subsidies and his son Salman’s businesses.

“Shehbaz Sharif has isolated himself. The case of telegraphic transfers (TTs) of funds against him is in its final stages. Once it is finalised, he will have to provide an answer before the court,” he said, referring to an ongoing probe into TTs tracing back to the former chief minister of Punjab.

“How was Shehbaz Sharif able to purchase expensive homes for his wives in housing societies? These expenses were carried out through kickbacks and fake accounts.

“Shehbaz Sharif will have to face the courts once the TT case is finalised,” Akbar reiterated.

Looping in the government of Sindh, he said that the leadership gave the most benefit to Omni Group through subsidies, which had been opposed by the provincial cabinet.

“The chief minister of Punjab appeared in front of the sugar inquiry commission but the chief minister of Sindh did not,” he said. “The PTI government will take homogeneous action against our party and others” who were named in the report.

Shahzad Akbar said Sindh Government run by PPP was not far behind in granting subsidy to the sugar cartels. He said Sindh government granted a subsidy of 4.12 billion rupees of which Omni Group was the biggest beneficiary.

He said that the sugar report had given comprehensive findings and found regulator guilty of not checking the wrong doings in the export of sugar and granting subsidy without calculating cost of production and performing due diligence.

Shahzad Akbar maintained that Prime Minister Imran Khan had fulfilled his promise by constituting the sugar commission and making its report public. He said that everyone, who harmed public interest through political manoeuvring or other influences, would be held accountable.

To a question, the SAPM stressed the need for overhauling the regulators to check such kind of illegality.