ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed to ease rules and regulations for establishment of fruit and vegetable markets in the country.
Chairing a meeting of federal and provincial ministers as well as chief secretaries on Thursday, the Prime Minister directed to ensure checking of prices of commodities.
He asked the provincial chief secretaries to take action against violators and the government officials should take care of people who face problems. He instructed that strict action be taken against the officials concerned in case of any neglect.
He said government functionaries should realise the sufferings of the public due to artificial price hike and administrative failures.
Moreover, the Prime Minister tasked Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to review the existing business model of procurement of wheat and to suggest ways and means to cut down administrative costs being incurred during procurement, transmission and storage process of wheat.
The meeting reviewed matters related to wheat, flour and enhancing markets for vegetables and fruits in the country. It was decided that the ratio of flour be enhanced to 80 percent of the wheat production and to curtail the expenditures of procurement, storage and transportation of wheat across the country.
Important decisions were made regarding partnership of the private sector in establishment of fruit and vegetable markets. It was also decided to review rules and regulations of establishment of markets in Punjab.
The PM was informed by Senior Punjab Minister for Food Aleem Khan that as per his directions, the Punjab government has been releasing wheat to flour mills since 07 July 2020. It was informed that so far 3.6 metric tonnes of wheat has been released with a provision of Rs50 billion as subsidy.
The meeting was informed that Punjab was incurring a cost of Rs510 per 40kg of wheat in lieu of various administrative charges including procurement, transmission and storage. This additional burden is being absorbed by the provincial government and is not being passed on to consumers.
The chief secretaries of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa briefed the PM about the existing regulatory mechanisms of the provinces for establishment of fruit and vegetable markets.
The KP CS informed that after the directives of the prime minister, 65 Kissan Markets have been established in the province. On tehsil level, 13 markets have been set-up where the licenses were auctioned. In addition, 23 markets have been established at raw sites.
The Prime Minister was briefed about the existing provisions of Punjab Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority Act 2018 and its subsequent amendments. He while disapproving the stringent criterion for establishment of private farm markets directed that the existing mechanism be reviewed to make it easy, convenient and affordable for the private sector.
Separately, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the government is fully aware of the problems being faced by the public and all-out efforts are being made to control price hike.
In an interview with a private television channel on Thursday, the Prime Minister said he had joined politics only to eliminate corruption from the country.
Responding to a question about Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s protest, he said the matter has been resolved and now its demands will be presented before the parliament for deliberations.
Imran Khan said he raised the blasphemy issue at all international fora as it is part of his faith. He said, “We need to urge more heads of Muslim countries to join forces in raising this matter forcefully at the global level.”
Replying to another question, he said Ulema of the country have an important role to control vulgarity in the society.
Answering a question regarding upcoming Senate elections, the Prime Minister said opposition had raised voice for open ballot in the past, but surprisingly now it has changed its viewpoint. He said shifting from their stance reflects that the opposition has planned horse-trading in the upcoming Senate elections.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has constituted a three-member committee to probe the scandalous vote buying video showing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPAs allegedly accepting bribes prior to the 2018 Senate elections.
According to an official statement issued on Thursday, the Prime Minister, while taking notice of the video, directed the matter to be probed by a committee consisting of two federal ministers and one of his advisors.
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari and PM’s Advisor on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar have been confirmed as members of the committee.
The committee has been directed to submit a comprehensive report, including recommendations for further actions as required in the domain of electoral and criminal laws, within a month.
Sources said that the committee will present its recommendations to the Premier prior to approaching the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for seeking criminal action against the responsible persons.
Moreover, the committee will also forward its suggestion to send the cases to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), sources added.
On February 9, a video surfaced which exposed the horse-trading during Senate elections in 2018 by some party lawmakers who could be seen as counting bundles of currencies and hiding it inside the bag.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned a meeting of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) parliamentary board ahead of Senate elections on March 3.
PM Imran Khan will chair the session of PTI parliamentary board in the evening today which will also be attended by the chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The participants of the session will hold consultations regarding the names of candidates and the strategy for the upcoming Senate elections.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved the Nullah Lai project at a cost of Rs75 billion to resolve problems being faced by the residents of Rawalpindi.
The approval was granted at a meeting held on Thursday with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair. A detailed briefing was given to Prime Minister Imran Khan on the Nullah Lai expansion project in the meeting.
The Prime Minister also directed the complete zoning of the concerned area and changes in relevant by-laws so that commercial and multi-storey buildings can be constructed along both sides of the Nullah Lai Expressway.
The project will be completed in two years under the public-private partnership mode. The expressway will be constructed on both sides of the Nullah Lai, whereas two malls will also be built on state land.
Imran Khan also directed to immediately start work on the project, which will be a milestone in transformation of Rawalpindi. He said that the Nullah Lai expansion project is very important for Rawalpindi as it will solve the problems of the people.
“The Nullah Lai expansion project is very important for Rawalpindi for preventing its residence from a flood situation,” added the PM. He further said that the people of Rawalpindi have been facing various problems for the last many years due to the increase in the population of the city, adding that the Ring Road and Nullah Lai expansion projects will boost investment and economic activities.
The Prime Minister was also briefed about Rawalpindi Ring Road project and progress in this regard.
Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and other senior officials attended the meeting. -TLTP

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