Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab says the province has nothing to do with the sugar crisis regardless of what the inquiry commission says since it last approved a sugar subsidy in 2017.
“We did not approve any sugar subsidies in 2018, 2019 or 2020. It was last issued in December 2017, fixing the sugar wholesale price at Rs50.10 and retail price at Rs53 which was reduced to Rs51 in March 2018,” Wahab said on Thursday.
The spokesperson for Sindh government was addressing the media flanked by Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah.
He said the subsidy issued by the province not only stabilised sugar’s price, but also was lower than the previous cost.
“The statistics speak for themselves. The province’s farmers and public benefited [from the subsidy] unlike the Centre that fixed the price at Rs80,” said Wahab.
He said the inquiry commission summoned Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on May 11 while concluding its report, but the CM did not appear before it because it was mainly based on 2019.
The Constitution only grants the federal government authority to import and export and the commission has itself concluded that the sugar crisis developed due to lack of supply because around one million tonnes of sugar was exported.
This is why Wahab says the CM decided not to appear for questioning since he has nothing to do with trade.
The evidence collected by the inquiry commission shows that sugar mill owners in Pakistan made Rs300 billion in profit in one year, which came from the pockets of farmers and taxpayers.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar held a press conference on the inquiry’s findings on Wednesday where he shared details of the Rs4.12 billion subsidy given by the Sindh government and said it was designed to benefit the Omni Group, which alone availed more than a quarter of the pie.
However, the Sindh government says it approved the subsidy on the basis of impartiality back in 2017.
Wahab said the provinces kept warning the government departments about the crisis but no action was taken.
Nasir Shah also weighed in on the inquiry’s findings. “[PTI’s] manifesto was something else.. they portrayed themselves as angels and criticised the PPP and PML-N, but their own people are involved in malpractices,” he said.