Government to initiate legal action against sugar tycoons after Eid

In this file photo, a Pakistani laborer carries a bag of sugar through a market in Karachi on April 30, 2008. (AFP)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Government to initiate legal action against sugar tycoons after Eid

  • Investigators audited six groups which hold 51 percent of Pakistan’s sugar production
  • Report says the mills have ‘for years’ underinvoiced sales and kept ‘double account books’ to evade taxes

ISLAMABAD: The government is going to initiate legal action against Pakistan’s major sugar mills after Eid Al-Fitr, officials said on Thursday.
“With the approval of the prime minister, we will initiate criminal proceedings against them after Eid,” Shehzad Akbar, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide on accountability, said at press conference held to present the findings of the Sugar Forensic Commission, which investigated a sugar crisis that gripped the country earlier this year.
“Sugar mill owners have cheated farmers and evaded taxes, as the relevant state institutions failed to check them,” Akbar said, while sharing the main points of the commission’s report.
The commission’s investigators audited six major sugar groups which hold 51 percent of Pakistan’s production to examine how they were exploiting farmers, tricking the state and selling their commodity at exorbitant rates in the local market.
“A process of reforms will be initiated in relevant institutions along with devising a mechanism to see as to how we can make recoveries (from the mills’ owners),” Akbar said.
“In 2017-18, sugar mills determined the cost of production at Rs51 per kilo whereas the report gave an estimate of Rs38 instead,” Akbar said, “In 2018-19, sugar mills calculated cost price at Rs52.60 while the report gave an estimate of Rs40.”
According to the report, the mills have “for years” under invoiced sales and kept “double account books” to evade taxes.
Akbar said the sugar commission has named a number of influential people who, according to its findings, benefited from sugar export subsidies and profited from the commodity’s rising prices in the local market. On its list are: the prime minister’s close aide and former secretary general of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jahangir Khan Tareen; lawmaker Moonis Elahi from Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q); son of the opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif; and brother of Economic Affairs Minister Khusro Bakhtiar. 
The sugar mills, Akbar said, also exploited the farmers by using informal receipts.
“It was ultimately the farmer who was crushed because there was no official record. The mill owners showed the price of production as more than the support price which meant that farmers earned less.”
Sugar cane is a popular crop in Pakistan for which the government sets procurement prices. The industry is further protected by a 40 percent import tariff.


At least 30 injured in grenade attack in Pakistan at Kashmir rally

Updated 05 August 2020

At least 30 injured in grenade attack in Pakistan at Kashmir rally

  • The attack was claimed by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, a separatist outfit that has become active in the past months
  • Organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious right party, the rally was called off after the attack

KARACHI: At least 30 people were injured in a grenade attack on a rally in Karachi on Wednesday, as Pakistan marked the first anniversary of India’s revocation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomy.
The wounded were rushed to different hospitals, where one was in a critical condition, an official from the provincial health department said.
“A grenade was lobbed in the rally, causing several casualties,” Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon told Reuters.
The attack was claimed by Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army, a separatist outfit that has become active in the past months.
In June, four people were killed including two soldiers in three consecutive explosions claimed by the SRA.
The group wants Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, to break from the Pakistani federation. It has also announced its alliance with the Balochistan Liberation Army, a militant group fighting for greater autonomy for the Balochistan region in southwestern Pakistan.
The attack took place as similar rallies were held across the country. The Karachi rally, organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious right party, was called off after the attack.
Last August, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Jammu and Kashmir — India’s only Muslim-majority state — of its special rights and split it into two federally administered territories.
The government said the change was necessary to develop the revolt-torn region and integrate it with the rest of India, but it infuriated many Kashmiris as well as neighboring Pakistan.
Kashmir is claimed in full by India and Pakistan, which have gone to war twice over it, and both rule parts of it.
Indian authorities deployed troops and curbed public movement on Wednesday to stop potential protests in Kashmir.