KARACHI: Federal Minister of Industries and Production Hammad Azhar on Wednesday blamed the sugar mill affiliation for offering authorities with incorrect information that led to a steep hike within the value of the commodity.
Speaking on Geo News’ Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Ke Saath, Azhar mentioned the affiliation knowledgeable the federal authorities of a 300,000 tonnes surplus in May 11 assembly. “I was told we might even have to export it.”
The scenario, nevertheless, took a 180 diploma flip when the sugar fee report issued a month later hinted at a scarcity and really useful a bodily verification of the inventory. “We conducted physical verification in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and still waiting for Sindh government to do so.”
Azhar mentioned the federal government discovered the demand elevated by two-three instances in Punjab. “Obviously, either they were showing us fake receipts or hoarding sugar,” he continued. “This created impression of a shortage that led to a hike in sugar prices.”
When questioned by host Shahzeb Khanzada on the federal government’s delayed resolution to import sugar, Azhar mentioned the fee report had solely “hinted” at a scarcity. “We cannot just start buying and importing sugar when the sugar mills association was insisting they had surplus.”
“After the physical verification, that 300,000 tonne surplus changed into a 300,000 tonnes shortage,” he admitted. “At this point the government decided to import sugar.”
Khanzada identified that the fee report estimated consumption at 5.2 million and projected a 8.66% lower in manufacturing. “Even Jahangir Khan Tareen warned the government of a sugar crisis and recommended import,” he added.
Azhar insisted that the Centre took immediate actions. “We held sugar advisory board’s meeting which was attended by provinces, association and other relevant authorities. It took us about 3-4 weeks to resolve the issue.”
He mentioned the federal government determined to import sugar as quickly as the info was obtainable.
“But the public is still paying a high price for sugar even at utility stores,” interjected Khanzada.
“Utility Stores Corporation is bound by the Procurement Regulatory Authority rules to buy sugar at market price. We went after the sugar cartel, obviously they will respond,” mentioned Azhar. “By devising laws, we have ensured sugar mills start crushing process without delay and empowered Punjab government to set the date for it.”
“Our efforts led to the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) becoming independent after 11 years,” he mentioned. “Previous governments offered subsidies without physical verifications.”
Azhar mentioned the federal government’s job was to confirm the info and legislate. “Whether there is a genuine shortage or it’s a cartel’s doing is up to the relevant authorities to investigate.”
“I can not remark till the authorities examine it. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Accountability Bureau (NAB) are all probing the matter.
“If we find out someone has taken undue advantage then I want to make it clear that Imran Khan will not protect anyone. He has proved it.”