P ML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi claims that corruption worth Rs20 billion took place in the state-run free flour distribution campaign.
In many significant projects and schemes of the Pakistani Government, countless corrupt Government officials have been recognized, rendering its system outdated and corrupt. In a press conference held on May 3rd, 2023, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi recently made allegations of corruption in the government's free flour scheme. He claimed that an amount of Rs 20 billion had been embezzled in the scheme.
“Recently, Rs84 billion worth of [free] flour was distributed. I am sorry to say that around Rs20 billion was looted,” the PML-N stalwart said. He also questioned the value received by the poor in exchange for the money spent.
To provide relief to the poor and underprivileged segments of society who were facing economic hardship due to rising food prices, the free flour scheme was initiated by the government of Pakistan. Under the scheme, subsidized flour was distributed among the people through designated sale points across the country.
Abbasi, who is also the leader of the opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), alleged that the scheme was marred by corruption and irregularities from its inception. He claimed that the government had procured flour at higher prices than the market rate and had then sold it at a subsidized price, resulting in huge losses to the national exchequer.
Furthermore, Abbasi accused the government officials of collusion with the flour mill owners to inflate the prices of wheat and flour, thus profiting at the expense of the poor. He claimed that this had led to an increase in the prices of other food items as well, pushing the people further into poverty.
Abbasi's allegations come at a time when the country is already facing multiple crises, including economic instability and political turmoil. The government has yet to respond to the allegations, but it is expected that they will refute them and launch an investigation into the matter.
This is not the first time that the government's relief schemes have come under scrutiny. In the past, similar allegations of corruption and mismanagement have been leveled against other schemes, such as the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) and the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Program.
In a country where corruption is rampant, and the poor are the worst affected, it is imperative that the government ensures transparency and accountability in its relief schemes. Only then can the people's trust in the government be restored, and the country's economic and social problems be effectively addressed.
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