Sugar Mafia to Expect Bitter Pill

On Tuesday, the federal cabinet decided that they would immediately move to import sugar. This step is being taken on account of a sudden rise in the monthly consumption. They also granted permission that a daily fine of Rs.5 million is imposed on any sugar mills that are, directly or indirectly, involved in causing a delay in the sugarcane crushing season. 

Imran Khan, the Prime Minister, announced that the sugarcane season will begin in 20 days or so, at a weekly cabinet meeting which he was chairing. He made this decision to ensure that the ‘sugar mafia’ could not delay the sugarcane crushing season. Moreover, for this same reason, he also announced a fine of Rs.5 million. 

The cabinet was then informed that the Punjab government had already made amends to the relevant law, in light of recent events. 

At the meeting, the members were informed that there has been a surge in the consumption of sugar on an average monthly basis. Then and there, the meeting decided that sugar would be immediately imported as it is an important commodity. It was reported that in the next few days, 200,000 tonnes of sugar will arrive in the country. 

A detailed briefing was also conducted in the meeting related to the import situation and prices, and the existing sugar reserves in Pakistan. The cabinet was informed that following the report of the sugar probe by Wajid Zia, the Director-General of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the process of physical verification has also been started. 

Earlier in the year, the prime minister had assigned the responsibility of looking into circumstances that led to the flour and wheat controversy. He had chosen two high-powered committees to work under DG FIA to get to the bottom of the rising sugar prices in the country. 

The cabinet was further briefed about wheat and its stocks that are available in the country. The import situation was also discussed at length. Furthermore, the members also talked about the status of the official wheat releases by the different provinces. They were informed that Punjab was now releasing 25,000 tonnes of wheat in a day as compared to the 17,000 to 20,000 tonnes being released before. 

It was also noted that the Sindh government will be releasing 85,000 tonnes of the commodity sometime between the 21st and 31st of October. The members were additionally informed that Punjab had stated that they will ensure the supply of wheat as per the demands made by utility stores. On the other hand, Sindh had stated that they will be supplying wheat to flour mills as per their requirements. 

After gathering all this vital information, Imran Khan informed the relevant officials that he is expecting them to provide a detailed report on sugar and wheat in the next cabinet meeting. 

In addition to these discussions, the cabinet also expressed concern regarding the rising cases of the virus in the country. The members noted that Pakistan had used the best strategy yet to combat the pandemic, and was also appreciated by various countries for its efforts. 

But, they warned that the citizens of the country needed to be extremely careful to ensure that a second wave did not arise.