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September 26, 2019

Utility Stores seeks BISP help for revival

Business

September 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan on Wednesday recommended rerouting the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) purchases through the Utility Stores to help the corporation convert its losses into profits.

Managing Director Utility Stores Umer Lodhi proposed this while briefing Senate’s Standing Committee on Industries and Production that met here under the chair of Senator Ahmed Khan.

Lodhi said the corporation, having 188 franchises, 4,041 regular stores, and 12,869 employees, had not received any subsidy or grant for its operational expenses since 2014. “The corporation is running on gross profit margin of the sales proceeds,” the top USC official added.

He said the corporation had suffered Rs5.122 billion in net losses up to March 2019 and paid Rs0.947 billion as taxes in 2018 to March 2019. A statement said the committee strongly recommended revival of subsidy and tax exemption to the corporation to provide better products at low prices to general public in a high-inflation environment.

Lodhi also told the upper house committee that the corporation could easily achieve the high sales target if a continuous inventory was sustained at its stores throughout the year. The committee was informed that the corporation had made a strategised work plan to achieve its targets by increasing its current margin of sales from 8.67 percent to 10.17 percent.

“The corporation aims to achieve this by upgrading its stores, introducing hypermarkets, improving branding, collaborating with BISP on Ehsaas Card Scheme, ensuring direct supply of stocks, and induction of high margin products,” Lodhi said.

He added the plan also envisaged reverting to Trading Corporation of Pakistan for purchase of sugar, purchasing wheat grain from Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation to be milled on contractual prequalified flour mills, and having a proper IT strategy. The meeting also discussed the matter of non-functional units of Pakistan Steel Mills and non-payment of gratuity and pensions to employees.