KARACHI: PPP calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan and the federal cabinet to be responsible for approving sugar exports and Rs2 billion shipping subsidies.
Chief Adviser Sindh Minister Syed Murtaza Wahab and Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah held a press conference on Thursday to respond to allegations of corruption by the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability of Shahzad Akbar from the previous day.
“There are various problems with the commission’s TOR,” he said. “The name of the chief minister to be called, his name has not been entered. The prime minister who approved the sugar subsidy, his name has also not been mentioned,” Shah said.
Referring to PTI leaders Khusro Bakhtyar and Jahangir Tareen being the “city talks” today, the information minister said that their sugar mills received the lion’s share of the subsidies. “More than 84 percent of sugar subsidies are given [by Sindh government] to the sugar factory Jahangir Tareen and Khusro Bakhtyar and others, “he underlined.
“This subsidy is given because sugar factories have so much sugar that they do not want to start the season of destruction,” Shah said, adding that subsidies are given to sugar mills to encourage them to export excess sugar and buy commodities from local farmers. “This subsidy is given and other benefits when demand for sugar is low on the international market,” he said. Shah criticized the government, wondering why the price of sugar surged to Rs80 per kilogram during the PTI administration.
Murtaza Wahab thanked the federal government for issuing a sugar inquiry commission report after that made it possible to ensure that the prime minister himself gave approval for the commodities to be exported.
“Subsidies are given to 26 sugar factories in Sindh,” he said. “Subsidies are given impartially and the aim is to protect the interests of our sugar farmers,” he said, adding that in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the Sindh government did not provide any subsidies for the sugar cane sector.
He said that sugar prices were not only stable but also fell when the Sindh government subsidized factories. “The benefits are obtained by sugar growers and consumers who buy sugar [due to the low prices],” she says.
Wahab said that the commission formed by the prime minister to investigate rising sugar prices did not call on Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. “The price of sugar quoted in the report comes from 2019. As I said before, the Sindh government has nothing to do with this problem because it does not issue sugar subsidies in 2018, 2019 and 2020,” he said.
Reading from the sugar inquiry commission report, Wahab pointed out that the commission had found that the prime minister approved the export of 1.1 million tons of sugar and subsidized Rs2 billion for transportation as well.
“This is not me who said this. This is not the Sindh government who said this. These are the findings of a commission formed by the federal government,” he said.
The federal government believes in bad intentions. He wants to save the prime minister and the cabinet so, in an effort to divert the problem, they go to the past, “Wahab said, adding that for a transparent investigation to be carried out, the prime minister must be asked why he allowed sugar to be exported which ultimately led to price increases and Shipping subsidies were approved at Rs2 billion.
Wahab and Shah responded to the horrendous press conference by Shahzad Akbar where, in the turn of the Sindh government, he said that the provincial government provided the Omni Group the greatest benefit through subsidies, which had been opposed by the provincial cabinet.
“The Punjab chief minister appeared before the sugar inquiry commission but the main Sindh minister did not,” he said. “That [PTI] the government will take homogeneous actions towards our party and others mentioned in the report. “
Mocking his political opponents, the special assistant said a report from the sugar inquiry commission was presented in the federal cabinet, which decided to make it public. Investors benefit from fluctuations in the price of sugar while ordinary people and farmers bear the burden, he added.
PM Imran, he underlined, has formed a commission to investigate fluctuations in sugar prices and the consequence reports are made public as soon as they are received.
“Maybe some of our friends didn’t read the report correctly. Maybe the Opposition didn’t understand it because the report was in English and long,” Akbar said.
“The audit issues have been reviewed in the report,” he said, adding that a very important part in it was the amount of subsidies provided by PML-N and in particular by Abbasi. Subsidies are given because “mismanagement in determining the price of production”, he said.
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