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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Is Punjab government seizing stock from sugar mills?

The seized stock will reportedly be sold through dealers at a maximum of Rs85 per kg as opposed to the previous high rate of Rs115 per kg. Following administrative actions taken by the provincial government, a downward trend has kick-started in the price of sugar.

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The Punjab government has started seizing stock from sugar mills to sell it in the market at notified rates after manufacturers refused to reduce the price of sugar. “We confiscated 500 tons from Macca Sugar Mills on Monday in the first ever raid on the premises of manufacturers,” said a senior official in the Punjab food department.

The official said that despite clear instructions by the government, no stock of sugar was supplied by mills in the market. “Therefore, we are left with no option but to take action as per law.” The Punjab government is acting based on the Punjab Sugar (Supply-chain) Management Order, 2021, the official explained.

He said the masses cannot be left at the mercy of sugar mill owners.

The seized stock will be sold through dealers at a maximum of Rs85 per kg as opposed to the previous high rate of Rs115 per kg.

Following administrative actions taken by the provincial government, a downward trend has kick-started in the price of sugar.

On March 25, 2021, the government introduced Punjab Sugar Supply Chain Management Order 2021 and the Prevention of Speculation in Essential Commodities Ordinance 2021.

As per provisions of the order, sale and purchase of sugar is regulated by registering warehouses of sugar mills and dealers and only registered dealers are allowed to sell or purchase sugar.

The Punjab Sugar Supply Chain Management Order 2021 is expected to help cope with the sugar mafia and ensure the supply of sugar at affordable rates.

No factory, dealers, wholesale dealer can store more than 2.5 tons sugar, and a no-objection certificate from the concerned deputy commissioner is required if more than the fixed volume is stored.

Read More: SC allows government to go after those involved in recent sugar crisis

Unregistered dealers and wholesale dealers cannot sell or purchase sugar. No sugar mill can sell its sugar to an unregistered dealer. The cane and deputy commissioners have been empowered under this order and they can take legal action in case of any irregularity. Under this order, sugar mills and wholesale dealers are bound to show their record to the cane commissioner.

FIA goes after Mafia

FIA has recently detected Rs110 billion earning by the proactive sugar mafia in the country over the last year through ‘speculative pricing’ and has initiated actions against them.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has issued notices to all the 40 speculative pricing agents directing them to appear before a combined investigation team before its Lahore bureau along with details of their declared and non-declared assets and bank accounts, details of declarations made in the amnesty schemes till date among other things.

The FIA had earlier arrested three brokers Dayaldas, Santosh Kumar, and Raj Kumar in Karachi. “All three have been involved in sugar satta dealings,” FIA officials said. “The accused used social media forums and fake bank accounts for their activities,” FIA Karachi said.

Reportedly, the agency has also approached financial institutions like banks and money exchange brokers to get details of the transactions made by sugar mills and the agents for the past year.

The investigation agency has got remand of the accused and is questioning them in the probe, the spokesperson said. “FIA Commercial Banking Circle had formed an investigation team after reports about the sugar speculating pricing mafia activities for the illegal hike in the commodity’s rate in the open market,” FIA spokesperson earlier said.

It must be noted that the FIA Lahore chapter informed FIA Karachi about 23 persons involved in the sugar Satta scam operating in Karachi. In a letter to the FIA chapter in Karachi, the FIA Lahore has highlighted the role of the sugar satta mafia in an illegal hike in the price of sugar across the country.

Read More: Sugar Crisis Report: Can Pakistan’s flawed justice system punish ‘sugar mafia’?

Reportedly, Malik Abad of the JWD group has been summoned on March 30 and Malik Majid of the same group on March 31st, Mustansar Gogi of Ramzan and Al-Arabia Sugar Mills on March 31st, Sheikh Amir Waheed of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills on 1st April, Asad Bhaiya of RYK Sugar group on April 2 and Aslam Bhalli of the Sharif Shamim Kanjwani group on March 30 besides others.

The FIR has claimed that if someone fails to appear, the arrest would be made according to the procedure.