ISLAMABAD, Feb 9 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday tasked provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to present an implementable plan, within 24 hours, for increasing the number of farmers’ markets and allowing private sector to establish their own markets.

The plan should also include rationalization of the regulatory regime with a shift towards compliance regime and doing away with the condition of obtaining No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the government for setting up a farmers’ market, he added.

The Prime Minister also tasked the provincial Chief Secretaries to present a comprehensive plan for rationalization of wheat grinding ratio to enhance production of flour, on one hand, and to bring down flour prices on the other.

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The decision was taken during a high level meeting chaired by the Prime Minister here to review the progress of administrative measures for bringing down prices of essential commodities.

Federal Ministers, Advisors, Provincial Ministers and senior officials were present during the meeting, which was also attended by Provincial Chief Secretaries of four provinces via video link.

The Prime Minister expressed serious concern over the existing price difference at wholesale and retail level, varying even at district level.

He observed that the existence of huge price difference at the two levels pointed towards weak implementation mechanism and inefficient regulatory mechanism.

The Prime Minister observed that limited number of farmers’ markets in the major cities was one of the causes of exploitation of farmers, undue profits being made by the middlemen and resultant price-hike that adversely affected the poor.

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He also took serious notice of the complaints of non-adherence to officially determined price list of essential commodities, at retail level, and directed that strict action be taken against violators.

Chief Secretaries briefed the meeting about action taken against various flour mills over violations including less grinding of wheat released by the provincial governments.

The Prime Minister also inquired from Chief Secretary Sindh about the reports of release of six years old 32,000 MT wheat which was unsuitable for consumption.