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I was not pressurised by premier to decide on sugar subsidy, export: Asad Umar

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said on Thursday that he had neither faced no pressure from Prime Minister Imran Khan to make decisions regarding matters related to sugar subsidy nor the premier was pressurised to allow sugar export, ARY News reported.

Asad Umar, while talking to ARY News programme ‘Off The Record’, said, ‘I am taking responsibility that the decision to export sugar had made by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). PM Imran Khan had not been pressurised to export sugar nor the premier had forced me to take the decision.’

‘I am still favouring that sugar export should be permitted at that time. In 2018, surplus stocks of sugar up to 20 lakh tonnes had present in the country. There was no shortage of sugar when the export was permitted [by the government]. The question was raised over the hike in sugar prices when sufficient stocks of sugar was presented in the country.’

Read: Government makes forensic report of inquiry commission on sugar public

‘I was written in the law that sugarcane crushing will be started from November 30, on the other hand, mills’ owners rejected to start crushing process until their demands were not met. I am sure about it that I was not blackmailed regarding the decision for sugar exports.’

The federal minister and former finance minister, Asad Umar, said that PM Khan probed the matter related to sugar exports and the provision of subsidy which was continued for a long time in the country. ‘The matters which usually discussed in the close door meetings were brought forward before the nation,’ said Umar.

Umar said that the Punjab government could give a proper answer regarding the discussions held in its cabinet meeting.

Read: Federal cabinet green-lights making sugar inquiry report public

Commenting over the future strategy, Asad Umar said that the government has given the responsibility to Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability, Shahzad Akbar, to present a plan regarding the action to be taken against the responsible persons in the sugar crisis. The present government will definitely take action against the accused persons in order to improve the system to block all passages to corruption.

Earlier in the day, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said the government is going to make public a report of the Sugar Inquiry Commission formed to fix responsibility for the sugar crisis that hit the country earlier this year.

Read: PM Imran fulfilled promise by publicizing sugar report: Sheikh Rashid

Speaking to media alongside Information Minister Shibli Faraz, he said the report will be made available on the Press Information Department (PID) website today.

A special meeting of the federal cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad earlier in the day, approved to make public probe report of the sugar inquiry commission.

The cabinet gave approval after the inquiry commission presented a forensic report on the sugar scandal in the federal cabinet session. During the meeting, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Wajid Zia briefed the members of the cabinet on the report.

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