ISLAMABAD: The Sugar Inquiry Commission is said to have collected 60 percent actionable evidence to further proceed against the sugar millers involved in illegal activity, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.
The Commission which has summoned Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) along with their experts for questioning fixation of prices, procurement of sugarcane, crushing and sale of commodity to the dealers.
On April, 28, 2020, the federal cabinet granted two weeks extension in probe into increase in sugar price on the basis of Director General FIA, Wajid Zia’s request that the magnitude of inquiry is very vast and a lot of information processed/analyzed needed further collaboration and follow up.
“Many key stakeholders are to be associated by the Inquiry Commission and confront them with the findings of the audit team. The whole process is time consuming and despite best efforts cannot be completed in the stipulated time,” the sources quoted Interior Ministry as saying. The cabinet has extended deadline of report’s submission for three weeks.
The insiders are of the view that nearly 40 per cent of total production of sugar is done on the black market (out of books), as sugarcane procurement, sugar production and sale to the dealers is made without any record. However, this year, the black business has declined to 30 per cent after the FBR deputed its officials at some mills.
“The Inquiry Commission teams have found some undeniable evidence against few sugar mills and dealers but now it depends on the Commission as to how it uses this information,” said one of the insiders.
The Cabinet has been informed that the evidence/information collected is trustworthy but needs further authentication through questioning of stakeholders. Sugar dealers from Sargodha, Faisalabad, Khan Pur, Multan, Lahore and Rahimyar Khan have offered their “full cooperation” to the Inquiry Commission at every stage, if they are not taken to task. The Sugar Commission has also questioned growers in different areas to get their version about the sale price of sugarcane. Pakistan Kissan Ittehad President Khalid Khokhar has also been questioned for three hours.
According to insiders, initially millers assured the dealers that there was no need of worry, things will be settled. However, when extraordinary pressure came from the authorities, dealers were given “fake accounts.”
“Inquiry teams have gathered 60 percent accurate information but don’t have evidence of 40 percent illegal activity,” said insiders. The team has found nothing with respect to exports. However, subsidy given by the Punjab government and price hike will make the report hard to digest by the decision makers.
One of the top representatives of PSMA said that they will now meet the Inquiry Commission on May 9 (Saturday) as some of the team members have to come from Karachi by road.
In reply to a question, he said that whatever costing has been submitted to the inquiry team is final and there will be no change.—MUSHTAQ GHUMMAN