Pakistan. Sugar procurement: USC facing cartelisation, says chairman


Chairman, Utility Stores Corporation (USC) Board of Director, Jamal Mustafa Siddiqui on Tuesday revealed that the corporation is facing cartelisation in sugar procurement as the millers quote similar prices or they opt to remain away from participation. Giving a detailed briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on the Industries and Production, the Chairman who does not have good relations with the Minister for Industries and Production and Ministry shared his concerns.

"We are struggling for acceptance of change. We are our own enemy, change within the organisation is resisted, change vis-à-vis the government is resisted, change vis-à-vis the customers is being resisted," he added. Talking about sugar millers, he said that the corporation which has turnover of Rs 80 billion per annum and 6,000 stores sometimes was blackmailed by sugar millers as a cartel on the plea that if they do not procure sugar now then when they will go for it, he continued.

The committee also expressed its concern over constant change of MD USC and recommended that a permanent head be appointed. Senator Kalsoom Parveen said the job of USC board is just confined to appointing and transferring its MD. The committee was told that now a capable MD has been appointed and things will get better which will be visible to everyone.

Committee Chairman Senator Hidayatullah also ordered to provide all details about Utility Store Corporation Members in the next meeting. Chairman USC told the committee that measures are being taken to make the corporation a profitable entity and to provide the public standard commodities and those who are committing negligence action will be taken against them. "Black sheeps will be eliminated from the corporation," the chairman assured the committee.

Senator Kalsoom Parveen said that expensive and substandard things are being sold in the USC and the public has lost its confidence in the institution. With the presence of such a huge infrastructure the country can earn billions if effective and improved strategy is employed, she said. The committee was told that 14,000 employees are working in 4500 USC stores.

Due to ban on new recruitments daily wages employees have been inducted and they were given due benefits after the announcement by government regarding increase in salaries. The committee was also briefed in detail regarding the corruption in USC and it was told that RS 707 million have been embezzled out of which Balochistan taking the lead has embezzled Rs 369 million, Punjab RS 283 million, Sindh 36 and KPK 19 million.

The committee was further informed that there are as many as 119 corruption cases out of which 3 in Balochistan, 17 in KPK, 58 in Sindh and 41 in Punjab have been registered. 116 cases have been registered with FIA and 3 cases are with NAB, the committee was told. The Senate body also sought the audit report from June 2015 to June 2016 regarding subsidy and expressed its dissatisfaction over audit report of 2012-13.

The committee also recommended paying salaries to employees of Pakistan Steel Mills. Senator Taj Haider said Engineering Board Sindh can manufacture three thousand buses, and instead of importing we should rely on local manufactured buses which will solve more than half the issues of Karachi traffic.

The committee meeting was attended by Senator Kalsoom Parveen, Mian Muhammad Attique Sheikh, Khanzada Khan, Taj Haider, Secretary Industries and Production Khizar Hayyat Gondal, Additional Secretary Shair Ayub Khan, Chairman Utility Store Corporation Board Jamaluddin Mustafa, MD Utility Store Corporation Waseem Mukhtar and other senior officials.


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