By Uzma Zafar
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday directed the federal ministries and provincial governments to bring down prices of wheat, sugar, cooking oil, fruits and vegetables to provide relief to public.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Saturday said at a press conference the premier held a three hour long meeting on Friday with chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, chief secretaries, ministries of food, agriculture, statistics, commerce and industry and cane commissioners.
She said the prime minister asked them to adopt a comprehensive strategy on ways to reduce prices of essential commodities.
The prime minister directed that people should be provided relief from hike in prices and availability of food items should be ensured, she told.
Firdous said price of wheat had increased in the Sindh province after its government had failed to procure the commodity and its stocks was depleted.
She said Bilawal Bhutto held a public meeting in Sindh on government expense.
The Sindh government was doing politics by using public resources while on the other hand due to its inefficiency and incapability, it had failed to keep the prices of wheat down, she added.
The prime minister took notice of the situation and issued instructions that Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation (PASSCO) should release 0.1 million ton of wheat for the Sindh province to reduce prices and help the people oppressed by their rulers, she explained.
She said in a recent by-election in Larkana, people buried the slogan of “Bhutto Zinda Hai” and made an example of the economic terrorists.
The special assistant said the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) was instructed to come up with a comprehensive strategy and recommendations in three days on release of stock of wheat and cut in prices, adding wheat would also be imported to ensure its availability at cheap prices.
Dr Firdous said for the first time, last year the sugarcane farmers received payments as per support price of Rs 180 per 40 kilogramme.
The PM expressed dismay at increase of prices of sugar and asked the provinces along with ministry of industry to keep the prices stable and take action against profiteers and hoarders.
The chief ministers were asked to establish farmer markets to end the role of middlemen so that farmers could benefit and consumers could get relief in prices of vegetables, fruits and perishable items.
The Federal Board of Revenue was instructed to rationalize the regulatory duty on import of cooking oil. She said after the stoppage of import of tomatoes and onion from India, their prices had increased but now the situation would improve after the arrival of these vegetables in the market from Sindh.
She told that Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) would establish a land bank and evolve a business plan to set up schools, colleges, university, parks and hospitals in the interest of people and to generate revenue.
She said the prime minister instructed that Punjab government should withdraw court cases to stop undue litigation on the agricultural, commercial land and properties of ETPB so that it could be used for projects.