PM assures steps to protect interests of growers, ensure supply of edibles at affordable prices: Firdous

APP65-07 ISLAMABAD: April 07 - Prime Minister Imran Khan chairing a meeting of the Federal Cabinet. APP

ISLAMABAD, Apr 07 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday assured the Federal Cabinet that
all necessary initiatives would be taken to protect the interests of farmers
and ensure supply of edibles items to general public at affordable prices.

Briefing the media persons about Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime
Minister Imran Khan, Special Assistant to the PM on Information and
Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said Special Assistant to the
PM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar presented the inquiry report
on flour and sugar crisis before the Cabinet at the outset of meeting
on the directives of the Prime Minister.

She said Shahzad Akbar informed the Cabinet that the concerned
ministry had presented the report in the ECC meeting that there was
about 2 million tones surplus sugar available in the country.

She said that after bumper crop of the sugarcane, the mill owners
pleaded that they were unable to purchase the same due to already
available stock. In this situation the PM was briefed that for saving
the interest of the farmers, it was necessary to hold consultations
with mill owners and take export-oriented initiative.

She said that the PM issued directives for resolution of the farmers
problems, however the federal government did not give any subsidy
on the export of sugar.

She said the Cabinet was informed that in 2017, Salman Shahbaz, the
son of former chief minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif approached the then
PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to give Rs 20 billion subsidy for sugar export.
Similarly during 2014-18, Sindh government gave Rs 20 subsidy per
kilogram on the sugar to benefit Omni group.

The SAPM said the present government for the first time since 2014
increased the price of sugarcane to protect the interests of the
growers. The government has decided to take strict action against
those involved in artificial crisis of wheat and sugar after release
of Inquiry Commission’s final report on April 25, she said.

She said that after inquiry report, specific questions arose about
effectiveness of the sugar policy. She said that the Cabinet decided
to take corrective measures to save the people from any such
artificial crisis in future.

She said that it was decided to introduce reforms in Competition
Commission of Pakistan to make it an effective origination to control
cartelization. Besides, modern technology would be introduced in
collection and maintenance of sugar industry data so that nobody
could hoodwink the system in future, she added.

Firdous Ashiq Awan said the prime minister has warned that strict
action would be taken against those found involved in hurling threats
to the Commission.

The Special Assistant said the Prime Minister has directed to resolve
the issues being faced by growers and farmers on immediate basis.

She said the government machinery was fully active to ensure the
availability of quality edibles at affordable prices and no negligence
would be tolerated in this regard.

Giving details of the Cabinet agenda, she said that it gave approval
to the decisions of Cabinet committee on energy besides approving
inclusion of 62 more districts in universal service fund to improve
broadband service there.

She said that the Cabinet approved proposals regarding revamping,
reconstructing and reorganizing Evacuee Trust Property Board and
gave approval to utilization Evacuee Trust Board land for welfare
purposes including health, education and housing sectors.

Dr Firdous said that Special Assistant on Social Protection Dr Sania
Nishtar gave detailed briefing to the Cabinet on Ehsaas Emergency
Cash Programme. She said that the Cabinet was informed that the
federal government was providing cash assistance worth Rs12,000
to over 12 million deserving families under Ehsaas Emergency Cash
Programme following coronavirus outbreak in the country.

The deserving families, she said, would get this cash assistance
after biometric verification through over 18,065 sale points or retail
shops across the country.

She said that Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr
Zafar Mirza briefed about the current the situation of ongoing coronavirus
and the relief steps being taken. He informed the meeting that so far
3864 coronavirus patient had been registered in the country and 54
deaths have been confirmed.

She said that the Prime Minister expressed his annoyance over the
treatment meted out to doctors in Balochistan and said that doctors
and paramedical staff were the frontline soldiers in war against corona
and it was responsibility of the concerned governments to provide them
protective gears so that they could focus on their work.

The Cabinet was informed that so far over 39,000 protective kits have
been handed over to the provinces but these have not reached the
hospitals in enough numbers. The Cabinet decided that from now onward,
these kits would be directly sent to the Medical Superintendents of the
hospitals through courier service to speed up the delivery process.

She said that SAPM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar was specially invited
in the meeting who briefed it about the registration of volunteers for
Tiger Volunteer Force. He said that so far 7,17,199 persons have
registered themselves for the force which would work at district,
Tehsil and union council level to support the district administration
in rescue, relief and rehabilitation activities, she added.