Cabinet reaffirms resolve to bring sugar barons earning undue profit to book

ISLAMABAD:The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday welcomed the verdict of Islamabad High Court on the sugar inquiry case and reaffirmed the government’s resolve to bring the sugar barons, who had earned undue profit, to book.

Briefing the media here about the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said the cabinet directed that actions on the recommendations of Sugar Inquiry Commission should be carried out as per the stipulated timelines given to relevant institutions.

The step, he said, would bring improvement and transparency in whole value chain of sugar production from purchasing of the sugarcane to marketing of the sugar. The process of determining the sugar price would be visible in next three months as the government had revamped the entire network of institutions responsible for monitoring and regulation of the sugar industry. It would result in the provision of commodity to the people at reasonable rate and help make recoveries from those who had exploited the system for minting money at the cost of consumers, he added.

Shibli said the cabinet also expressed concern on the rising prices of flour and endorsed the prime minister’s directive for rectification of the situation by corrective steps, including release of nine million tons of wheat by the Punjab government and control of its smuggling.

He said a committee under Advisor to the PM on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had been constituted to monitor the situation, besides streamlining and making the matters relating to the wheat and flour more transparent. The prime minister directed the committee to determine the demand and supply of flour on scientific basis with collection of complete data.

The minister said the import of wheat was allowed to keep its prices stable as 25 million tons of the commodity was available in the country against the requirement of 27 million tons.

He said the federal cabinet appreciated the performance of Ministry of Education for introducing a uniform curriculum for all the educational institutions in the country , including religious seminaries. The cabinet, he said, also discussed the online education by utilizing modern technologies in the post-coronavirus outbreak situation. Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasized on making the facility available in far flung areas of the country, especially Balochistan where the availability of Internet was an issue.

The prime minister directed that the IT fund should be utilized for the benefit of the people of Balochistan as they deserved similar facilities as enjoyed by the rest of Pakistan, the minister added.

Shibli Faraz said the prime minister was determined to improve the health system in the country. The cabinet gave approval for a new teaching hospital, which would be built on modern lines.

He said Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar and Special Assistant to the PM on Health Dr Zafar Mirza gave a detailed briefing to cabinet on the prevalent COVID-19 situation.

It was told that in a short span of time, the number of laboratories for corona testing had reached 129 from mere two at the start of the pandemic, while the testing capacity increased to 50,000 tests per day from initial 472, which would reach 150,000 per day by the end of July.

The minister said total 770 hospitals were catering to the corona patients across the country. Some 8,886 oxygenated beds were available in the country, out of which 2,671 were occupied, while 2,150 more beds would be added next month.

He said the federal government was very clear from day one on how to take steps to overcome the challenge of coronavirus. The prime minister had the vision to run the wheel of economy to save the vulnerable segments of the society from hunger and starvation, and to protect the lives of people.

Citing the examples of India and Brazil, Shibli Faraz said both the countries had suffered immensely due to their extreme strategies to counter the disease.

On the contrary, he said, the Pakistani government, despite having limited resources, adopted the best strategy keeping in view the ground realities to tackle the situation. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government disbursed a huge amount under the Ehsaas Cash Emergency Programme among vulnerable families and protected them from starvation.

He said the opposition found fault with the government’s handling of coronavirus and called for imposing a strict lockdown as they had stashed billions of rupees in their accounts abroad but Imran Khan had no foreign accounts and properties.

The prime minister was leading the nation from the front and he had sacrificed his luxurious lifestyle for the purpose, he added.

Shibli Faraz said the cabinet also discussed measures how to tackle the situation on the occasion of Eidul Azha. He also appreciated the role of media in the testing times for the creation of awareness among the masses despite facing many challenges.

He said the credit for success against the coronavirus also went to the masses, especially the medical professionals who were the frontline soldiers in the war against the deadly disease.

The cabinet deliberated on the optimum use of the properties of Evacuee Trust Property Board. It was informed that its properties were leased out on minimal rates or they were occupied by the land mafia. The PM issued directives for digitalization of its land record.