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Khaqan Abbasi gave massive subsidy on sugar worth Rs20 bln: Shahzad Akbar

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability, Shahzad Akbar, has revealed that the former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had approved a massive subsidy worth Rs20 billion on sugar during his tenure, ARY News reported on Thursday.

Shahzad Akbar, while talking to ARY News programme ‘Power Play’, said that the report of the inquiry commission mentioned that sugar mills have influence over the national politics. He said that all political parties have specific people who owned sugar mills.

“It emerged in March regarding the details surplus stocks of sugar present in the country. [Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) senior vice-president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had approved a massive subsidy on sugar worth Rs20 billion.”

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

The premier’s aide stressed restoration of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) as its 10-year performance is ‘zero’.

He continued, “The sugar price was low in the international market in 2017 and no approval was given for its export. It had been exported in November 2017 when its prices increased in the global market.”

“It is a question whether the sugar was really exported to other countries or not. The investigation found a major difference in the records regarding the sugar exports to Afghanistan.”

“I am happy to say that our national institutions are now able to conduct a forensic audit. A truck axle load could carry 15-20 tonnes while the trucks carried 60-70 tonnes of sugar to Afghanistan. The subsidy was not given by the Centre but the provinces as the federal government had only allowed to export it.”

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

“Sugar mills had managed to get the subsidy from provinces after facing refusal from the Centre, however, they succeeded to get approval from the federal government for its exports. The decisions of the Economic Coordination Commission (ECC) have nothing to do with the provinces.”

“It was a detailed report and the authorities will take the next steps after reviewing it in all aspects. Prime Minister Imran Khan had told us that accountability will be held for the elite seized the system of the country.”

Shahzad Akbar said that it was the responsibility of the sugar advisory board to immediately halt the export after witnessing a surge in prices. The prices of sugar had been hiked after spreading rumours in the markets.

The federal government conducted an investigation into the matter to ascertain the reasons behind a surge in sugar prices, said Akbar.

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

It also emerged that sugar mills would start sugar crushing from November, however, it was delayed in November, as well as in December following protests and negotiations.

“The question is still prevailing for the Punjab chief minister regarding the provision of the subsidy on sugar,” said the PM’s aide. He said that the past governments had never conducted such an investigation.

Shahzad Akbar said that the federal government will take action against the responsible people in accordance with the latest report. He said that he has been given the responsibility to recommend the future strategy to the PM Imran Khan. He added that the recommendations will be forwarded to the premier after the Eid festival.

He also revealed that the investigators have also seized a racket of brokers and sugar mills’ association which was involved in controlling sugar prices in markets through a WhatsApp group.

“The WhatsApp group is the stock market of bookies. The sugar prices would have increased more if an action was not taken by the government.”

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