Major sugar mills underreported sales, committed fraud: FIA forensic report Cost of production inflated, manipulation made in market; The state’s regulatory institutions should step up their efforts for recovering looted amount

149

Staff Reporter

Islamabad

Information Minister Shibli Faraz and PM’s aide on accountability, Shehzad Akbar, on Thursday revealed details from the Sugar Forensic Commission (SFC) constituted to find out those behind the sugar shortage and price hike of the commodity in the country earlier this year.
Akbar said the report revealed that the sugar mill owners were acting as “cartels”. Six major groups hold 51 per cent of the production supply, he added.
According to report, the sugar industry was given subsidies worth Rs29 billion over the last five years and tax income from 88 sugar mills across the country amounted to Rs10bn after tax refunds.
“A mill called Alliance from Rahim Yar Khan — partially owned by Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) senior leader Moonis Elahi — was audited. It showed that between 2014 to 2018, 11-14pc systematic cut was done for farmers, which translated to Rs970 million and was a huge blow to them,” Akbar said.
He added that the mill under-reported sugar sales “for years” and sold the commodity to unnamed buyers. The report mentioned violations of the Pakistan Penal Code, he said.
Akbar also mentioned the JDW sugar mill in which PTI stalwart Jahangir Tareen owns 21pc shares. He said that according to the report, the mill committed “double booking, under-reporting and over-invoicing”.
“The report noted that the mill under-invoiced sales from bagasse and molasses which resulted in 25pc cost inflation. They also committed corporate fraud whereby money was transferred from their PLC to their private company.
“Forward sales, satta, benami sales have all been associated with JDW too.”
The Al Arabiya mill owned by Salman Shahbaz Sharif was also audited, the SAPM said, adding that it was found to have committed fraud worth Rs400m through informal receipts and market manipulation.
Akbar said the report had proven what PM Imran Khan had always maintained what he said.
“Whenever a businessman comes into politics, he will always do business even at the expense of the poor. So his [PM’s] thinking has been validated. A certain business community has captured the market and as a result, people are suffering,” he said.
He added that the report will be available online shortly for anyone to read following the prime minister’s orders.
Akbar said that the report revealed that certain sugar mills used informal receipts. “It was ultimately the farmer who was crushed because there was no official record.
The mill owners showed the price of production to be more than the support price which meant that farmers earned less.”