Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif gave the go ahead to expand the Punjab Food Authority’s operations to eight cities in the province on Thursday. He also approved proposed amendments to the Punjab Food Authority Act of 2011.
He was addressing a meeting of the PFA where he lauded the efforts of PFA Operations Director Ayesha Mumtaz and presented her a certificate of appreciation. He said she would in no way be hindered in her crackdown against vendors and restaurants selling unhygienic food.
Sharif said the scope of the PFA would be expanded throughout the province under a phased programme. In the first phase, it would be expanded to Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Multan, Bahawalpur, Sialkot and Murree.
Sharif said the role of food testing laboratories was of vital importance as well. “Besides expanding the scope of PFA’s operations, the government will also set up food testing labs,” he said. “No one would be allowed to exploit citizens.”
He said the authority should continue indiscriminate action against those endangering lives [through sale of adulterated food]. “Businesses feeding poison to people are enemies of humanity,” he said. “Those selling substandard and unhygienic food should be thrown in jail” He said there was a mafia controlling the production and sale of unhygienic and substandard food items. “They will be dealt with severely through coordinated efforts.” Sharif asked the PFA to continue its crack down on such elements and not buckle under the pressure of influential people.
He said the manufacture and sale of substandard food items would soon be made a non-bailable offence. He stressed the need for strict punishments for such an offence.
He said the PFA should acquire services of the best legal professionals in order to ensure exemplary punishment to businesses found selling substandard food items.
He said the Prosecution Department had to play an effective role in this regard. Sharif said four task forces had been set up in the Punjab to take action against those involved in preparing and selling substandard, unhygienic and adulterated items.
The chief minister stressed the need for transparency and merit in the process of categorising hotels and restaurants. He suggested that the PFA also pay attention to the training and capacity-building of its staff. He said a comprehensive plan should be evolved with regard to service rules, training, career and capacity-building of the PFA’s staff.
Ministers Rana Sanaullah and Bilal Yasin, Adviser to CM on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique, MPAs Majid Zahoor, Abdul Razzaq Dhilon, Muhammad Ali Khokhar, the chief secretary and the inspector general police attended the meeting.
Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Chairman Dr Umar Saif shared on his Twitter account a picture of Mumtaz receiving the appreciation certificate from the chief minister. He had captioned it: “With the dabang Ayesha Mumtaz of the Punjab Food Authority who received appreciation by the CM for her work”
The authority continued raiding various eateries on Thursday and sealed several restaurants in Lahore.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2015.
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