ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday directed for seeking help from the country’s intelligence agencies to prevent smuggling, hoarding and profiteering in the country, stressing that a tough action against this curse was essential to boost the national economy.
Chairing a meeting to control smuggling, crackdown on hoarders and eliminating locust attacks on crops, Imran called for effective coordination among the provinces and assured that availability of funds would be ensured to fight the locust.
The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, Food Minister Fakhar Imam, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Economic Affairs Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Finance Adviser Dr Hafeez Sheikh, Special Assistant on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal and senior officials.
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The meeting was informed that as a result of a new ordinance to crack down on smuggling and hoarding and other government measures such as sealing of the country’s borders, smuggling had been reduced significantly.
“Smuggling is detrimental to the national economy. Similarly, action is inevitable against hoarding and profiteering. Those people must be identified immediately and punished according to the law, in order to discourage these [criminal] activities,” the prime minister said.
The prime minister emphasised the role of intelligence agencies in checking smuggling and hoarding and called for appointment of honest and dutiful officers at checkpoints. He stressed effective coordination among the provinces with monitoring on daily basis.
The participants were briefed about the wheat procurement target for the next year and provision of gunny bags to the farmers. Bakhtiar told the meeting that Punjab and the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) took timely steps for wheat procurement.
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In this regard, the minister added, other provinces need to take effective measures to achieve the procurement target. “This year’s target is 82 million tonnes. Wheat procurement process needed to be accelerated,” the minister told the meeting.
Prime Minister Imran emphasised the need for a comprehensive and effective strategy for the timely procurement of wheat and to ensure provision of wheat and flour to consumers across the country.
The meeting also discussed the locust attack in the country and the steps taken so far to control it, including spray of pesticides through planes. The meeting was informed that purpose-built spray aircraft and machinery had already been imported from China but more equipment were required.
Imran termed locusts another big problem for the country after the coronavirus and directed for ensuring funds for its elimination. He said that locust emergency had already been declared in the country.