Rs.386 Billion to be Recovered from Sugar Barons

In recent news, the government of Pakistan has decided to recover Rs.386 billion from sugar barons, who are responsible for causing an acute shortage of this particular commodity in the year 2020. 

Sources have reported that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, in the last cabinet meeting, requested Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability, to brief everyone present. He was asked to inform the cabinet of the actions that have been taken so far on the basis of the report that was provided by the sugar commission. The commission previously conducted a probe when the crisis first broke out. 

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was named responsible for leading the commission. It had accused the owners of sugar mills of earning illegal profits, which were worth billions of rupees. According to the commission, unjustifiable means were used to make underhanded profits, such as Benami transactions, unnecessary price hikes, misuse of subsidy, sugarcane purchases made off the books, and tax evasion. 

The commission also stated that the top politicians in the country, including Shehbaz Sharif of PML-N, Khusro Bakhtiar and Jahangir Tareen of PTI, and Asif Ali Zardari of PPP, are some of the beneficiaries of the crisis. 

The adviser also informed the attendees of the meeting that as per the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), sugar mills are now liable to pay Rs.386 billion. He informed that this amount includes Rs.29 billion to be paid in taxes, and Rs.22 billion to be paid as fines. The account of fines has built up because the sugar mills tried to start legal cases against the report being written by the sugar commission. 

Akbar revealed that notices have been given so that the amount may be recovered. In addition, these cases have been referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The bureau has already started with relevant inquiries. 

The government had also instructed the FBR to undertake a detailed and comprehensive audit of all the sugar mills in the country. This was specifically said so that the commission could unearth tax-frauds and concealment, along with Benami transactions. 

At the same cabinet meeting, Ali Zaidi, the Minister for Maritime Affairs, claimed that the PPP-led province of Sindh just recently released wheat that they were hoarding during the flour crisis in the year 2020. The attendees of the meeting criticized the provincial government for its ‘apathetic response’ to the crisis. 

Sources said that the premier deemed the entire crisis to be nothing more than a conspiracy. He believes that reason this situation was created was to weaken the federal government and burden the poor people residing in the province of Sindh. 

Faisal Vawda, Mortgage financing Minister for Water Resources, has often raised the issue of banks giving more mortgage financing to houses that are only one to two years old. This is a precondition that he believes is hurting the poor people of the country and therefore, saw it appropriate to bring it up at the meeting.