ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday decided in principle that the government would provide flour, ghee, cooking oil, pulses, rice and sugar at low prices during the next financial year.
The PM took the important decision while chairing a meeting on issues relating to Utility Store Corporation (USC) here. “The poor segment of society is in dire need of relief at this time, and the government will take all measures in this regard,” he said. The PM also approved expansion of utility stores network in Karachi.
The meeting was informed that supply of low price flour was being ensured at 942 utility stores in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. On the special directive of PM, 1,000 new selling points and 200 mobile stores are also being planned.
Shehbaz Sharif asked the authorities concerned to present a comprehensive plan to increase the number of utility stores in Karachi within two weeks.
He ordered to make the subsidy system transparent, digitalise it, and evolve a comprehensive system by combining various types of subsidies. The PM appreciated theinitiatives of utility stores in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and also appreciated provision of targeted subsidy with the help of digital system.
The meeting was informed that the USC was currently operating 3,822 stores directly and 1,380 franchises in the country. It was apprised that more than 300 new stores would be set up in Balochistan, Sindh, Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Punjab by 30th of the next month.
The meeting was briefed that under the relief package of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, 113 million deserving people have been provided relief so far. They have been given targeted subsidy of Rs60 per kg on flour, Rs21 per kg on sugar, Rs250 on ghee and Rs15-20 per kg on pulses and rice.
The subsidy mechanism is digital whereas National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation are linked to the data. In Balochistan, subsidised supply of essential commodities is being ensured not only at utility stores but mobile stores have also been set up to ensure supply in remote areas.
Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved the establishment of a task force on the rights of minorities. In a tweet on Monday, he said non-Muslim citizens are part and parcel of the national fabric. He said the body would oversee implementation of measures about rights of minorities and present quarterly report to him.
National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf congratulated Dr Ramesh Kumar, MNA, over his appointment as chairman of the Task Force on the Rights of Minorities. He expressed the hope that the task force would take concrete measures to resolve issues facing the minorities.
Also, PM Shehbaz Sharif urged Saudi investors to come forward and invest in Pakistan which had huge potential for investment in diverse fields, including agriculture and minerals. Talking to a delegation of Saudi businessmen and investors here on Monday, he also reaffirmed Pakistan's desire to enhance bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia in different sectors including trade and investment.
He said that he had no words for expressing thanks for warm welcome accorded to him and members of his delegation during the last visit to Saudi Arabia. The meeting was briefed that Pakistan is an emerging country in terms of investment potential with many facilities for business and making safe investment. The meeting was told that investment could be made in the oil refinery industry in Gwadar, where Saudi investors also showed keen interest.
It was agreed at the meeting that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would accelerate progress in trade and investment and in this regard the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Joint Working Group would also be activated.
Federal Ministers Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Miftah Ismail, Naveed Qamar, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Maulana Asad Mahmood, Syed Murtaza Mahmood, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi, Saudi Ambassador in Islamabad, diplomats and leading personalities form country’s business community were also present.
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