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Ensure sale of food items at official rates, PM Imran tells provinces

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the provinces to ensure that commodities at retail level are being provided to consumers at officially notified prices.

Chairing a high level meeting in the capital, he instructed that strict action be taken against the officials concerned in case of any neglect. He said government functionaries should realise the sufferings of the public due to artificial price hike and administrative failures.

In order to enhance flour production and to bring down flour price, it was decided that 80:20 grinding ratio of wheat will be ensured by the provincial governments.

Moreover, the prime minister tasked Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to review the existing business model of procurement of wheat and to suggest ways and means to cut down administrative costs being incurred during procurement, transmission and storage process of wheat.

The meeting was attended among others by federal and provincial ministers and relevant federal and provincial secretaries. Chief Secretaries of the provinces were also present during the meeting via video link.

PM Imran Khan was informed by senior Punjab Minister for Food Aleem Khan that as per his directions, the Punjab government had been releasing wheat to flour mills since 07 July 2020. It was informed that so far 3.6 metric ton wheat has been released with a provision of Rs. 50 billion as subsidy.

The meeting was informed that Punjab was incurring a cost of Rs. 510 per 40kg of wheat in lieu of various administrative charges including procurement, transmission and storage.  This additional burden was being absorbed by the provincial government and was not being passed on to consumers.

The chief secretaries of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa briefed the PM about the existing regulatory mechanisms of the provinces for establishment of fruit and vegetable markets.

The KP CS informed that after the directives of the prime minister, 65 Kissan Markets have been established in the province. On tehsil level, 13 markets have been set-up where the licenses were auctioned. In addition, 23 markets have been established at raw sites.

The prime minister Imran Khan was briefed about the existing provisions of Punjab Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority Act 2018 and its subsequent amendments. He while disapproving the stringent criterion for establishment of private farm markets directed that the existing mechanism be reviewed to make it easy, convenient and affordable for the private sector.

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