PM Imran apprised of measures to reduce flour prices across country

PM orders review of the business model for wheat procurement; directs reduction in essential commodities' prices


Our Correspondent February 11, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a high-level meeting with chief secretaries and other high-ups in Islamabad on February 11, 2021. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

In order to enhance flour production and bring down the commodity's price, the provincial governments will ensure a 80:20 grinding ratio.

This was decided at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Thursday. Those in attendance on the occasion included the federal and provincial ministers and the relevant federal and provincial secretaries.

The premier tasked the finance minister with reviewing the business model and system of procurement of wheat and suggesting ways and means to cut down administrative costs being incurred during the procurement, transmission and storage of the commodity.

He asked the minister to suggest an efficient business model for the purpose of cutting down additional expenses being incurred by the food department.

Also read: NPMC reviews price trends

On the occasion, senior Punjab minister for food told the premier that as per his directions, since July 2020, the provincial government has been releasing wheat to flour-mills.

So far, 3.6 metric tonnes of wheat has been released with a provision of Rs50billion as subsidy.

Earlier, the meeting was informed that Punjab is incurring a cost of Rs510 per 40kg of wheat in lieu of various administrative charges under the commodity’s procurement, transmission and storage.

This additional burden, the attendees were told, is being absorbed by the provincial government and is not being passed on to the consumers.

Chief secretaries of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa briefed the premier about the provinces' existing regulatory mechanisms for establishing fruit and vegetable markets.

Chief Secretary KP apprised the premier that on his directive, 65 Kissan Markets have been established in the province. On the tehsil level, he added, 13 markets have been set up and licenses auctioned. In addition, 23 markets have also been established at raw sites, he maintained.

He was briefed about the existing provisions of the Punjab Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority Act, 2018 and its subsequent amendments.

Disapproving the stringent criterion for establishment of private farm markets, the premier directed that the existing mechanism be reviewed to make it easy, convenient and affordable for the private sector.

Also read: Food inflation continues to persist

The premier further directed the laws to be suitably amended to put in place a compliance regime rather than approvals.

The power of regulation was further ordered to be devolved to the divisional and district level, whereas all activities at the market were directed to be filmed to ensure transparency during the auction.

The PM Imran on the occasion further directed the chief secretaries to ensure that commodities at the retail level are being provided to the consumers at the officially notified prices. He directed that strict action should be taken against the concerned officials in case of any neglect.

He added that the government functionaries should realize the sufferings of the masses due to artificial price hike and administrative failures.

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