Misuse of subsidised wheat: ACE recovers over Rs206m from flour mills

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LAHORE:Retrieval of looted amount in Punjab was started during Ramazan 2018 by the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) when a number of flour mills misused subsidised wheat and sold it in the open market to earn illegal profit.

The Punjab government decided to provide wheat through Food Department to the functional flour mills across Punjab at a subsidised rate. According to a Punjab government spokesman at that time, it was a normal practice of the Food Department to issue wheat at the rate of Rs1,200 per 40 Kg to the functional flour mills. But under Ramazan Package 2018, Food Department issued wheat at a subsidised rate of Rs 800 per 40 Kg to provide flour to general public at discounted rate in Ramazan bazaars as well as in the open market. It was decided in Ramazan Package 2018 that a 20 Kg bag of flour would be available in Ramadan bazaars and in the open market at the price of Rs500 while the 10 kg flour bag was to be provided at Rs250 under the subsidy scheme but the flour mills owners did not use this facility for public benefit and sold subsidised wheat in the open market at higher price.

Following reports, ACE Punjab initiated an inquiry first in Rawalpindi region and later on in all regions of Punjab about the misappropriation of subsidised wheat issued to the functional flour mills during Ramazan Package 2018. It was reported that some of the mills did not grind the wheat issued under Ramazan Package 2018, and sold it in the open market to earn illegal profit. Owing to the high difference in price, they sold the wheat in the open market and misappropriated the amount with the connivance of Food Department officers and officials. During the inquiry proceedings, it was found that 667 flour mills availed subsidised wheat quota across Punjab under Ramazan Package 2018 out of which 148 flour mills were involved in misappropriation/less grinding of the subsidised wheat provided under Ramazan Package 2018 to them. The 148 flour mills sold the subsidized wheat in the open market at a higher price in order to maximise their own profits in connivance with the Food Department officials instead of providing relief to the general public under the Ramazan Package 2018. Total loss amounting to Rs 261.37 million was assessed during an inquiry in all regions of Punjab. An amount of 206.48 million has been recovered and the remaining recovery is Rs 54.89 million. FIRs have been registered against the delinquent flour mills and Food Department officers/officials in Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Gujranwala regions.

In ACE Lahore region A, 55 flour mills availed subsidy from the Punjab government, out of which 7 mills did corruption of rs35.54 million. ACE has recovered RS 28.65 million and efforts to recover the remaining Rs 6.89 million back are still continued. In Lahore region B, 55 flour mills availed subsidy, out of which 20 mills misappropriated an amount of Rs18.07 million. The ACE has recovered Rs 15.42million and efforts to recover the remaining Rs 2.66 million are continued. In Gujranwala, 24 flour mills out of 106 mills committed corruption of Rs.34.53 million out which Rs34.13 million have been recovered. In Faisalabad, out of 60 flour mills, three flour mills did corruption of Rs5.54 million and whole amount has been recovered. In Sargodha region, all eight flour mill did corruption of RS.8.05 million out of which Rs7.53 million have been recovered. In Rawalpindi division, 158 flour mills availed subsidy, out of which 44 flour mills did corruption of Rs100.09 million. Out the amount, the ACE has recovered Rs56.1 7 million and struggle for recovery of Rs43.9 1 million is continued. In Multan region, 74 mills got subsidy, out of which 13 flour mills did corruption of Rs13.80 and the whole amount was recovered. In Bahawalpur region, out of 89 flour mills, 18 mills did corruption of Rs39.70 and whole amount was recovered. In Sahiwal region, six flour mills out of 25 mills did corruption of Rs4.84 million, out of which Rs4.34 million have been recovered. In DG Khan, total 37 flour mills availed subsidy from the government, out of which five flour mills did corruption of Rs 1.15 million. The amount was recovered by ACE Punjab.

To summarise, there are 667 flour mills in Punjab which got subsidy from Punjab Food Department, out of which 148 flour mills did corruption of Rs 261.37 million. An amount of Rs 206.48 million has been recovered struggle for getting back the remaining amount of Rs54.89 million is still continued. Legal proceedings against 25 DFCs, 29 AFCs, 65 food grain inspectors, 16 food grain supervisors, 14 senior clerks, six junior clerks of Food Department has been started.

AC Director General Gauhar Nafees has said there is no place for corrupt elements in Pakistan. ACE is taking action against corrupt elements without any discrimination. He directed his officers to adopt zero-tolerance policy against the corrupt elements.

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