Friday, December 4, 2020
Home OP-ED Editorial Breaking the alliance

Breaking the alliance

OPPOSITION was genuinely lambasting the government for its dismal failure to control the galloping rise in the prices of food commodities, which was largely due supply squeezing practices of powerful cartels and profiteers. These elements include political heavyweights in the rank and file of ruling PTI and two major opposition parties. The often repeated allegation of senior leaders of PML-N was that government allowed a particular stalwart of PTI to go abroad and skip the probe of sugar scam. He has now returned. Better late than never, Federal investigation Agency (FIA) has registered cases against PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, his Ali Tareen, opposition leader Shabaz Sharif and his sons Salman Shabaz and Hamza Shabaz. The younger son of Shabaz Sharif is absconding abroad. Investigation is underway against Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Khysro Bakhtiar and his family members in sugar scam. Cartelisation of economy under the patronage of elected government since 2008 is the primary driver for the unprecedented and constant high price spiral, Other contributory factors include persistent decline in domestic production and awarding import licenses to the ones named in the inquiry commission report. It explains the failure of supply augmenting measures of food commodities through imports and launching of Insaf Sasta Bazars to provide these commodities on affordable price to the people of low and middle income groups. The official price of sugar at these Bazars has been fixed Rs.88 per kilogram.
The sugar cartel exploited the sugarcane growers with impunity; devoured taxpayers’ money of billions in the shape of subsidy on sugar export and arbitrarily raising the price of the commodity in addition to tax evasion by showing lower recovery rate of sugar from the crushed sugarcane. When sugar crisis emerged in the country, ECC had taken a decision to import 300,000 tonnes of sugar. Moreover, anti-hoarding measures of the provincial governments and supplies from imports did not bring improvement and sugar price went up to Rs. 110 per kilogram. Smooth supply of the commodity on utility stores and its sale at Rs.68 per kilogram at these outlets also did not bring down price, while the sugarcane crushing season was still on. The sugar mills owners are so powerful that government has always been helpless when they resort to bullying tactics.

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