Zardari, Sharif families blamed for sugar crisis

Lambasting mill owners for creating an artificial sugar crisis to exploit the common man, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has assured that the stock of sugar in the country is enough for at least 22 days.

Addressing a press conference at Pak-China Friendship Center alongside Food Security Minister Fakhar Imam in Islamabad on Friday, Chaudhry accused PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and the Sharif family for increasing sugar prices as most of the sugar mills in Sindh and Punjab belong to them.

The information minister highlighted how 90,000 tons of sugar is currently with the private sector. “Today we are suffering the consequences of the worst economic policies of the past. Previous governments had artificially stabilised the value of the dollar which has now risen due to past policies,” he said, “The country is due to repay $12 billion next year, while $10 billion have already been repaid this year. 2008 to 2018 were the worst years for Pakistan.”

Expressing dismay over the current situation, Chaudhry added that he couldn’t fathom how the people who were responsible for bringing the country to the brink of the prevailing crisis, are the ones proposing a solution now.

He informed reporters that the price of petrol would have gone up to Rs180 if taxes had been imposed.
On the occasion, Food Minister Imam said sugarcane crushing will begin in Punjab from November 15.

Responding to a question regarding wheat prices, he added that the Sindh government had not released the wheat supply as yet and that is the reason crushing has not begun as yet. “The support price of wheat has been fixed at Rs1,950.”

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On the other hand, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib on Friday said the Sindh government had left the poor people, especially in Karachi, at the mercy of mafias and profiteers whereas other provinces were giving subsidies on food commodities such as wheat and sugar to provide relief to the people.

Addressing a press conference along with Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Sindh Assembly Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Shaikh at the Governor House, Habib lamented how PPP had been in power for the last 13 years but still was not ready to take responsibility.

Sharing the data compiled by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, he said a 20kg bag of wheat flour is being sold in Karachi at Rs1,470 while the same flour bag is being sold in Lahore at Rs1,100.

“Punjab government ensured timely releases of wheat to the flour mills at subsidised rates that drove the price down,” he said.

“The federal government had reminded Sindh many times to release at least 0.2m tons of wheat stock from stores but the decision in this regard was taken on October 15 by Sindh while Punjab had already started at least one-and-a-half month ago.”

Habib maintained that the only reason behind different prices of wheat in Sindh and Punjab is because the PPP-led Sindh government ignored the advice of the Center.

“The same is the case with sugar which is being provided in Punjab at Rs90 per kilogram because of a massive spillover,” he said, adding that as per data available with him, sugar is being sold in Karachi at around Rs125 per kg, raising doubts over the intervention of Sindh government in the matter. “Even the operational sugar mills have been shut down in Sindh.”

The state minister said the Sindh government does not want to provide relief to the poor people as it has also refused to join the largest welfare package in the history of the country; the Rs120 billion Ehsaas

Ration Support Programme which will directly support around 20 million families.

Habib concluded that the Federation will provide its 35 per cent share of the Ehsaas Ration Support Programme for the people of Sindh.

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