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Three-member body headed by FIA chief to probe sugar crisis

Three-member body headed by FIA chief to probe sugar crisis

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday commissioned a three-member committee led by the director-general of the (DG) Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to probe the recent sugar price crisis.

According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, “The committee shall identify and fix responsibility, if any, on any individual, officer or organisation or any purported benefit to a private party, besides suggesting a way forward for future course of action.”

The other two members of the committee will be a representative of the Intelligence Bureau not below grade 20/21, and the director-general of the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment.

The committee will investigate the matter from various angles, keeping in view 14 questions, including whether the initial export of sugar (which exacerbated the crisis) justified. The committee is also interested in whether any subsidy was given on the export of sugar and what the impact of that subsidy was, and who benefited from it.”

Moreover, the committee will also gauge the difference in the production of sugar from past years and see if the purchase price of the sugarcane was exorbitant this year. The committee will also find out the extent of the delays in the purchase of sugarcane from farmers. Additionally, the committee shall investigate the presence of oligopolies in the sugar sector.

Other responsibilities include identification of illegal stockpiles, if any, and the justification for sugar export. Lastly, the committee shall observe the role of the stakeholders, including government institutions, in the increase in prices.

Earlier this month, the prime minister had assured the nation that the government has begun an in-depth probe into the flour and sugar price hike across the country and those found involved in malpractices would face punishment.

“I understand the difficulties ordinary people including salaried class are confronting and have decided, come what may, my government will be announcing various measures that will be taken to reduce prices of basic food items for the common man in the Cabinet,” the prime minister had said in a tweet.

The prime minister had added that the relevant government agencies have begun an in-depth probe into the flour and sugar price hike. “The nation should rest assured that all those responsible will be held accountable and penalised.”

During the incumbent government’s 15 months, sugar prices have shot up to as high as Rs64 a kilo. In January, the wholesale rate rose from Rs64 to Rs74 per kg and an acute shortage surfaced in the country.