Strict action after final report on wheat, sugar crises: Firdous PM expresses ‘great displeasure’ over threats to probe commission

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STAFF REPORTER
ISLAMABAD Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed “great displeasure” over reports of threats being given to the inquiry commission investigating the sugar crisis, said Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Tuesday. Dr Firdous was holding a press conference on the cabinet meeting held earlier in the day during which the inquiry report on the sugar crisis was discussed. “Today, the prime minister expressed ‘great displeasure’ over threats being given to the sugar crisis probe commission. He said that strict action will be taken against such elements if they make threats [to the inquiry commission] again,” she said, adding that the premier made it clear that the government’s topmost priority was to provide justice to the people. She said that the prime minister had tasked the FIA commission to probe the crisis upon witnessing the hardships that citizens were facing. Dr Firdous said that PM Imran will take action based on the recommendations of the final report that will be provided by the commission on April 25. Dr Firdous said that the inquiry report had not only raised questions on Pakistan’s sugar policy but had also identified the problems of the food system in the country. “These [gaps] will not only be removed but a foolproof, technological process will be introduced due to which no one will have the courage to create an artificial food crisis again,” she added. She said that the cabinet had been informed that a delegation headed by Salman Shehbaz Sharif convinced the then-prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in 2017 to issue a Rs20bn subsidy for sugar. Dr Firdous said that the cabinet had been informed that the Sindh government had also approved subsidies for sugar mills in 2014 and 2018 through the Omni Group. Awan said the federal cabinet endorsed the Cabinet Committee on Energy’s decisions and approved a suggestion for setting up a task force to reorganize the Evacuee Trust Property Board. The special assistant said the government’s flagship Ehsaas programme is extending financial assistance to the poor without any discrimination. The cabinet was informed that the process of payment of Rs144 billion under Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme will commence on April 8 (today), she added. The cabinet also got a detailed briefing on measures being taking to arrest the spread of coronavirus in the country. Earlier addressing the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed legal action against those responsible for the sugar and wheat price hike after the detailed forensic reports. Chairing a federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad, PM Imran said that he would take more action against the profiteers behind sugar, flour crisis after the detailed forensic report, which will come out on April 25. “I fulfilled my promise with the nation by making reports public,” he said, adding that the Federal Investigation Agency reports on sugar and wheat crisis was released on his instruction. The cabinet meeting discussed the latest situation of coronavirus and the steps taken by the government to contain its spread.

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