PM Imran says that the 'govt's center of attention right now is to provide relief to the poor citizens of the country'
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed the concerned authorities to curb smuggling and hoarding of basic food items, while announcing a grand operation against the culprits behind the 'artificial crisis'.
Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Asad Umar, National Food Security Minister Khusro Bakhtiyar, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the prime minister's special assistants Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Abdul Razzaq Dawood, federal secretaries and senior government officials were present at the high-level meeting chaired by PM Imran.
“To bring stability in the prices of basic food and to reduce their rates is the government's top priority,” said PM Imran, adding that “the government's centre of attention right now is to provide relief to the poor citizens of the country".
The recommendations presented regarding the matter should be immediately taken into consideration so that they could be implemented upon, he said.
We should pay special attention to the actual data of wheat, sugar and other food items, PM Imran said, adding that the same attention should be provided in procuring the estimates of demand and supply.
The government decided to purchase wheat in double the quantity of its previous target to bring about stability in its price and to bridge the gap between its demand and supply. It was also decided during the meeting that prices of sugar will be fixed by the sugar advisory board by having it evaluated by a third party.
It was decided during the meeting that concrete and effective steps will be taken to stop wheat, onions, tomatoes and other food items from being smuggled abroad. The government decided it will forward a proposal to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to bring down the tax levied on basic food items.
Last month, prices of wheat and sugar skyrocketed across the country after it was found that the staple food items had disappeared from markets. An investigation found out that senior government officials were involved in hoarding wheat which created the artificial crisis.
PM Imran announced a "grand operation" against those found guilty of hoarding and smuggling basic food items. Last week, the government announced a Rs15 billion package for utility stores to provide relief to the masses.
On Saturday, the prime minister admitted that the wheat and sugar crisis had originated as a result of his government's negligence.
"This was our [government] negligence, I admit this," he said. "I am telling you this today, we are conducting an investigation into this [wheat and sugar crisis] and we are slowly getting to know who is involved. I promise you, whoever is involved in the crisis, we will not leave that person," he had said at an event in Lahore.