LAHORE: Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Abdul Aleem Khan was on Tuesday assigned the portfolio of food ministry and designated as Senior Minister of Punjab.
A notification stated that Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has given the food ministry to the re-inducted cabinet member who took oath at the Governor House on Monday.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar had administered the oath to the former local government minister who had stepped down from his post after facing detention by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for an investigation into allegations of corruption.
After taking charge of the food department, Khan presided over a meeting and issued instructions that the target of 4.5 million tonnes of wheat procurement in the province should be met in any case.
The senior minister said there should be no restriction on the inter-district transport of wheat.
“The smuggling of wheat from the province should be stopped at all costs by sealing all borders of Punjab.”
He also said that the wheat procurement target could be increased but not decreased, therefore it should be achieved as soon as possible.
Khan ordered initiation of the process of releasing wheat stocks so that there is no complaint of shortage of flour in the market.
While addressing the meeting, he warned that in the current international and domestic conditions, food can become a global problem in the coming days.
The senior minister observed that other provinces are also dependent on Punjab for wheat. He said that an integrated policy on the issue should be made and if necessary, legislation will be tabled in the Punjab Assembly in this regard.
He also highlighted a discrepancy between the government and market sale rates of wheat, saying it should be minimised to discourage hoarders and profiteers.
During a briefing, Secretary Food Waqas Ali Mehmood said ‘Bardana’ (wheat sacks) have been issued without any discrimination and wheat procurement has already started in Punjab.
The meeting was informed that 4.5 million tonnes of wheat will be procured under an open policy and the deputy commissioners of each district have been assigned the task of achieving the wheat procurement target.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2020.