The provincial assembly on Friday started a general discussion on wheat and food prices for years 2014-2015.
The sitting began at 10:15am. Food Minister Bilal Yaseen started the discussion. He asked the opposition to give proposals on flour subsidy and the price the government should fix for wheat for the year 2014-2015.
Earlier, Minister Hameeda Waheed Khan answered questions on the Transport Department.
Leader of the Opposition Mian Mehmoodul Rashid of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said that the government had failed to province sasti roti (cheap bread) to the poor.
He said that it was unfortunate that the government had failed to achieve the wheat procurement target last year.
He said in 2008, when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) took over the government in the province, flour sold at Rs16 per kilogram. He said now the price had risen to Rs45 per kg. He said price of a roti in 2008 was Rs2. It had now increased to Rs6, he said. He said raising wheat prices was a complicated issue. If the government raised the price, the poor would not be able to buy wheat and if the prices were kept down, farmers were unwilling to supply at low rates.
He demanded subsidies on fertilisers, electricity and petroleum products. He said the water rates on wheat crop should be waived.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Mian Aslam Iqbal said that government should use Zakat and Ushr Committees to provide cheap wheat flour to the poor. He said the government should increase their storage capacity.Speaker Rana Iqbal asked Minister for Agriculture Farrukh Javed to direct his department to focus on research.
The discussion on wheat will continue on Monday.
During the question hour, the speaker remarked that the transport secretary should visit bus terminals at the City railway station and address the problems there.
PML-N’s Mian Naseen said the Transport Department awarded fitness certificates. He asked what happened to buses after their certificates expired. The speaker asked the minister to clarify his department’s policy in this regard during the next session.
Mian Aslam Iqbal asked about the operational subsidy on the Metro bus.
The minister said the Metro bus carried an average of 118,120 passengers a day and the government paid Rs140.4 million subsidy per month. He said the subsidy would be decreased gradually.
Two new elected members Khurram Jahangir Wattoo and Zubair Baloch were administered the oath by the speaker.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2013.