Cabinet approves formation of Sugar Reforms Committee

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved formation of a high-powered Sugar Reforms Committee to devise a long-term strategy to reform the sugar sector in the light of recommendations of an inquiry commission.

The committee was proposed by federal Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar.

The cabinet meeting that was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan feared that there would be a new spike in coronavirus cases in the country if the people did not follow preventive measures during holidays for Eidul Azha.

The meeting also thoroughly discussed the issue of alleged fake professional degrees of pilots of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). It was informed that 450 pilots of the national flag carrier had been cleared and 37 suspended for having suspected credentials.

The cabinet held a detailed discussion on the sugar sector and review how to bring reforms in it, said Information Minister Shibli Faraz in a post-cabinet meeting press conference.

The high-powered committee will be tasked to devise long-term strategy to reform sugar sector

The recent forensic audit report of the sugar inquiry commission noted that basic regulation was lacking and called for improvement in the regulatory system. The state’s regulatory institutions — State Bank of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) — should step up their regulations, it said.

It also recommended that assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners should ensure that farmers were paid their full dues and that technology be used for bookkeeping and a mechanism be developed to “recover the looted amount”.

Meanwhile, a source said that the prime minister said in the cabinet meeting that no one involved in the recent sugar scam would be spared and that an across-the-board accountability would be ensured.

Some top leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), including Jahangir Khan Tareen, are allegedly involved in the sugar scandal.

The sugar commission was constituted by the government in the first week of April following the release of two separate inquiry reports by the FIA on the issue of artificial shortage of sugar and wheat in the country and sudden increase in their prices last year.

After the report’s release, the opposition had demanded that the premier take stern action against those who had been declared responsible for the crisis by the FIA committee.

PIA crisis

According to the source, the cabinet was informed that 28 pilots of PIA had been dismissed from the service and 37 were suspended for allegedly having suspected credentials.

The meeting was apprised that 450 PIA pilots have been cleared.

Likewise, out of 104 pilots of other airlines 100 have been cleared and the case of four others was said to be in process.

Five officials of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have also been suspended and now the government has decided to initiate criminal proceedings against those who have fake and suspected degrees.