PM directs ministries to bring down prices of wheat, sugar: Dr Firdous

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APP13-19 ISLAMABAD: October 19 – Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan addressing a press conference at PID Media Centre. APP photo by Saleem Rana

ISLAMABAD, Oct 19 (APP):Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Saturday said Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the federal ministries and provincial governments to bring down prices of wheat, sugar, cooking oil, fruits and vegetables to provide relief to public.

Addressing a press conference here, she said the prime minister 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 and asked them to adopt a comprehensive strategy on ways to reduce prices of essential commodities.

The prime minister directed that people should be shielded from hikes 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 bye election in Larkana, people buried the slogan of “Bhutto zinda hay” 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.

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.

Public interest projects would be set up at the land encroached by shrines and the record of charity collected by beneficiaries would be used for setting up a university, langars and shelter homes and to provide facilities to pilgrims and population living in vicinity.

She denied that the prime minister held meeting with ulema to take them on board on the issue of sit in of opposition.

The PM told ulema that Pakistan was created to fulfill a dream and the key idea was to turn the country into a welfare Islamic state on the model of Riyasat e Medina of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

Islamic Ideology Council should guide the government on implementing the concept of Riyasat e Medina and tax reforms according to Quran and Sunnah, she quoted the PM as saying.

Ulema appreciated the prime minister’s address to the United Nations General Assembly and supported his efforts to promote the narrative of Kashmiris and his decision to observe black day against India on October 27 when India entered its forces in Kashmir.

She said the content of the meeting of the prime minister with religious scholars was published out of context in some sections of media and baseless propaganda was made. Ulema from all schools of thought attended the meeting.

Talking about the issue of Ansar ul Islam – a wing of Jamiat Ulema Islam, she informed a summary had been sent to the cabinet about the organization and decision about it would be taken as per provisions of constitution.

She said the right to protest could not be taken away as it was the basic human, constitutional and legal right.

Dr Firdous observed that when doctors, teachers and others protested they did not need a private militia. Such militia carrying sticks would be used to spread chaos and disorder, she commented.

She said under National Action Plan (NAP), state had the right to protect rights of its citizens and nobody was allowed to create state within a state and legal action would be taken if an individual or party would violate the law.

The provinces were in the process of formulating a strategy to ensure law and order and to deal with jathas (bands) bent upon creating chaos, she said, adding the federal government would assist the provincial governments.

State institutions were in agreement that nobody would be allowed to hold citizens hostage. Under article 256 of the constitution, the state had the responsibility to protect life and property of citizens, she added.

The special assistant said state and the government were working, Parliament was functional and the army was the guarantor of the security and defence of the country.

To a question, she said economic indicators were improving, current account deficit and exports were increasing and when funds would flow in the national exchequer, new homes and jobs would become available.

She said the government was fighting against money laundering, adding our enemies had failed in their attempt as Financial Action Task Force (FATF) did not put Pakistan in its black list, however they were still trying to destabilize Pakistan.

She said those who damaged the economy were now claiming to put it on track, adding people had rejected their hollow claims.