SAPM struggles to complete task

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Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shazad Akbar has written a letter to Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Chairman Competitive Commission (CCP) and Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to take action against the sugar cartel in their respective domains in the light of Sugar Inquiry Commission Report. Federal government has sought clarification from CCP for delay in action against this cartel. Moreover, Federal Board of Revenue will investigate matters pertaining to dubious transactions by sugar mills’ owners and massive tax evasions. Prime Minister used to say that conflict of interest has corrupted the political system of country, which is responsible for the concentration of national resources in few hands. He had made a promise to for doing legislation to separate business from politics. However, preference for the electable in 2018m elections made necessary to compromise this loud stance. The stakeholders of cartels had enjoyed dominance in the legislative and executive branches of the state during the governments of other two mainstream political parties and even in PTI. Grant of subsidy on the export of sugar and wheat had been routine affair in the previous two governments and the present government has also given it. Despite the repeated advice of the multilateral donor agencies neither the previous governments budged an inch to give financial autonomy to central bank nor does the present government want to make the bank autonomous in decisions regarding the country’s monetary policy. The role of the central bank is limited and cannot take any decisive action against the recovery of defaulted loans from the sugar mill owners. Loans acquired under political clout have always been written off by the influential political and business elite. The CCP is toothless and its promised reorganization has not been done. The commission is unable to ensure fair competition in the commodity market within its current mandate. The FBR will conduct the audit of production and sales of sugar mills, dig out tax evasion and even initiate legal action. But millers can drag cases in law courts for years by hiring high paid lawyers. The delays in adjudication of tax cases have occurred in the past and will happen in future as well. The administrative actions do produce some positive results in over pricing and hoarding by the wholesalers and retailers. In case of producers with strong connection in the corridors of power anti-hoarding administrative measures have not achieved the desired results.