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Pakistan

Wheat, sugar scam: PM says those responsible will face the music after release of commission report on April 25

Imran says the report of wheat and sugar scam was made public on his instructions. More reshuffles expected in
Published April 7, 2020
  • Imran says the report of wheat and sugar scam was made public on his instructions.
  • More reshuffles expected in cabinet in coming days: PM.
  • Awan says government machinery is fully active to ensure the availability of quality edibles at affordable prices and no negligence would be tolerated in this regard.

(Karachi) Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the government will take strict action against those involved in wheat and sugar scandal after release of commission report on April 25.

Chairing the cabinet meeting in Islamabad, he said action will be taken against those responsible as per the law. Imran maintained that the report of wheat and sugar scam was made public on his instructions. "I fulfilled the promise of making the report public."

He hinted that more reshuffles in the cabinet could be expected in the coming days. The PM said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf believes in transparency and good governance.

Later, addressing a press briefing, Special Assistant to PM for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan informed about the cabinet meeting decisions.

She said the government machinery is fully active to ensure the availability of quality edibles at affordable prices and no negligence would be tolerated in this regard.

She said the prime minister has warned that strict action will be taken against those found involved in hurling threats to commission.

The special assistant said the PM has directed to resolve the issues being faced by growers and farmers on immediate basis.

During the meeting, Awan highlighted that prime minister Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar presented report to the cabinet regarding shortage of sugar and wheat in the country.

"The cabinet approved proposals regarding revamping, reconstructing and reorganizing Evacuee Trust Property Board, giving nod to utilize its properties in health, education andhousing sectors," she added.

She said Special Assistant on National health Services Dr. Zafar Mirza gave briefing to the cabinet about ongoing Coronavirus cases and government's measures to provide relief to Corona-hit labour population.

She pointed out that 39,000 personal protective kits have been dispatched to all provinces for protection of paramedical staff engaged in Coronavirus-hit patients.

Firdous said the cabinet was told that the federal government is providing cash assistance worth Rs12,000 to over 12 million deserving families under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program following coronavirus outbreak in the country.

On April 6, in a major cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Imran Khan named Khusro Bakhtiar as the Economic Affairs Minister. PTI leader Syed Fakhar Imam has been appointed as Federal Minister of National Food Security and Research.

The reshuffle was made in light of findings of the inquiry report related to wheat and sugar scandal. Bakhtiar has replaced Hammad Azhar, who is now Federal Minister for Industries. The PM also removed Advisor for Commerce, Industry and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood from his portfoilo and as Chairman of Sugar Advisory Board.

Meanwhile, Food Secretary Hashim Popalzai was also sacked from his post.

PM Imran made changes in the cabinet after the findings of an inquiry report by Federal Investigation Agency in wheat and sugar scandal were made public three days ago.  The report had named Khusro Bakhtiar as beneficiary in the scam while he was serving as the head of National Food Security Ministry.

Similarly, Punjab Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry resigned from his post for his alleged involvement in the wheat and sugar scam while Jahangir Tareen was also sacked from the chairmanship of Agriculture Task Force.

Tareen, who is considered as the most senior PTI member and close aide to PM Imran Khan, has been sacked after the Federal Investigation Agency initiated investigations against him for his involvement and being a beneficiary in the wheat scandal.

Besides, taking action on the wheat and sugar crisis report, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar demoted Dera Ghazi Khan Commissioner Naseem Sadiq to Officer on Special Duty (OSD). Sadiq had served as Punjab food secretary in 2019.

The prime minister had constituted two high-powered committees under Director General Federal Investigation Agency and comprising a senior officer of Intelligence Bureau and DG Anti Corruption Establishment Punjab to investigate the causes behind the crises and price hike of the said commodities.

After the formation of the said committees, the prime minister had repeatedly resolved to expose and penalize those found responsible for the sugar and wheat crises to avoid the recurrence of such acts.

On submission of inquiry reports from both the committees, certain additional questions were also referred to the bodies seeking further clarifications. The committees had furnished separate main and supplementary reports to address the further queries raised by the Prime Minister House.

The report held some ministers and members belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf responsible for creating artificial crisis and hike in prices of wheat and flour.

The committee on wheat crisis comprised DG FIA Wajid Zia, Deputy DG IB Mubarak Zeb and DG Anti Corruption Punjab Muhammad Gohar Nafees.

The committee on the subject of sugar consisted of DG FIA Wajid Zia, Deputy DG IB Ahmad Kamal and DG Anti Corruption Establishment Punjab Muhammad Goher Nafees.

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