At least three lawmakers on the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) belonging to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) reproved the opposition on Wednesday for not forcefully raising the issue of price hike in the country.
The committee, which met with its chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain in the chair, took notice of the sale of substandard items at the utility stores across the country and summoned the relevant officials of the Industries and Production Ministry.
The meeting expressed its displeasure at the absence of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman. The committee also summoned the Prime Minister’s Office secretary and the President’s Secretariat secretary.
The issue of price hike and inflation came under heated discussion when the PAC took up the issue of the sale of substandard items at the utility stores and the sale of vehicles on higher than the original sale prices.
While discussing the agenda items, the committee members from the ruling PTI spoke against the rising inflation and the resulting price hike. National Assembly Member (MNA) Khawaja Shiraz Mahmood said that inflation had taken hold of the economy but nobody was paying any heed.
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Mahmood pointed to unprecedented hike in the prices of various items. Before the PTI government, he said, the DAP [diammonium phosphate fertiliser] was being sold at Rs5,000 per bag but the price had not gone up to Rs10,000. In big cities, the unit of electricity is costing Rs27 per unit, he added.
“People are crushed in an oppression mill. The whole nation is stuck into non-issues. Inflation has taken hold, but neither the opposition nor the government is doing anything. “It is the job of the opposition to raise these issues but they do not raise them,” he added.
He then turned to fellow PTI lawmaker Malik Amir Dogar, saying that Dogar “listens to us and he has the courage to speak to the energy minister” but even the minister would not listen to anyone. “It tantamount to casting pearls before cattle,” he added.
Dogar retorted that all the ministers were like this. And in a lighter vein, Dogar added that the PAC chairman, Rana Tanveer, who belonged to the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was also like this when he was a minister in the previous governments.
Noor Alam Khan of the PTI also supported these views. He said that DAP was being sold for Rs9,200 per bag, yet sometimes stones were found in its sacks. “The common man is dying, people are selling babies, selling kidneys to [make ends meet],” added senior PML-N leader Khawaja Asif.
Khan also pointed out that Rs600,000-800,000 was taken from the buyers as “own money” on prompt delivery of the vehicles. Khawaja Asif said that companies were robbing the people. The committee decided to summon the relevant officials of the Industries and Production Ministry.
The meeting also discussed the issue of non-convening of the departmental accounts committees (DACs) by various departments. The chair said that in the last two and a half years he had repeatedly instructed for holding DAC meetings.
Noor Alam Khan said that principal accounting officers did not come to the meeting, so how could the DACs be convened. He also pointed out that the NAB chairman was also not attending the PAC meeting.
The NAB director general informed the chair that the NAB Chairman was in Lahore. Rana Tanveer directed the audit authorities to submit the audit report of NAB’s recoveries to the committee. He also asked the NAB DG to ask the chairman when would he come to the PAC meeting.
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