After the government’s inquiry commission formed to probe the hike in sugar prices submitted its forensic report, which accused major sugar mills in the country of “underreported sales and fraud”, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen termed the allegations levelled against him “shocking” while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif said that the report is “nothing but falsehood”.
Earlier, while discussing the report’s findings in a media briefing, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar identified the mills owned by Shehbaz’s family, Tareen, Khusro Bakhtiar’s brother and Moonis Elahi and revealed that six major sugar mill groups were acting as “cartels”.
He said that the company owned by Shehbaz’s family engaged in “double reporting”. In 2017-18, the company raked in additional profits of Rs1.3 billion and in 2018-19, they earned Rs780 million. He also said that sugar mills belonging to Tareen’s group were found guilty of “double billing” and “over-invoicing” as well as “corporate fraud”.
Speaking of Economic Affairs Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, he said that his brother is the one who owns a sugar mill and he does not hold political office. “We cannot ask Khusro to resign from his post. An inquiry will be initiated against whoever is directly involved,” he said.
He said that among the mills shortlisted is Alliance Mills which is owned by the RYK Group. Moonis Elahi has 34 per cent ownership of the group. “[The report] confirms the premier’s longheld view that businessmen in politics will put business first,” Akbar said.
Responding to report and the briefing, Tareen said, “I am shocked at the kind of false allegations levelled against me. I have always run a clean business. All Pakistan knows I always pay full price to my growers. “I DO NOT maintain 2 sets of Books. I pay all my taxes diligently. I will answer every allegation and be vindicated IA.”
Shehbaz, while speaking to a local news outlet, said that the report is “nothing but falsehood” and that the commission did not record the statement of the “real culprit Imran Khan”.
He said that “PM Imran is behind the scandal”. “My children have been named in the inquiry report but they did not export sugar,” he said.
Separately, Elahi also took to Twitter to comment on the report, saying, “As stated earlier, I am not involved in the management nor am I on the board of any sugar mill. I strongly support the recommendation of commission to control satta/speculation, including new legislation to help government control sugar price manipulation.”