Provision of relief to masses top priority: Dr. Firdous
ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Thursday said that focus of government policies is to provide relief to general public, especially the poor and deserving segments of the society.
Addressing a joint press conference along with Managing Director Utility
Stores Corporation (USC) Umar Lodhi, she said that present government would stand by the masses during this difficult juncture.
She said the government is taking maximum steps to control spread of coronavirus in the country with the assistance of provincial governments and other stakeholders.
The SAPM said that Cash Emergency Transfer Scheme of Ehsaas programme has been inaugurated by the Prime Minister and Rs.12,000 cash-grant is being provided to the 12 million deserving families across the country.
She said under the cash programme, Rs. 144 billion will be distributed among the deserving families, adding that supply of essential commodities to the public will be ensured at the chain of Utility Stores Corporation which is playing an important role in this regard.
She said the government has extended the relief package at Utility Stores till Eid-ul-Fitr. She said earlier subsidy was being given on five items but now 19 items will be available at discounted prices. She said that Rs 2.5 billion package has been approved for Utility Stores which could be enhanced to Rs 7 billion as per requirement.
Dr Firdous said under the Prime Minister’s relief package, Rs 10 billion have been allocated for USC to ensure availability of daily-use items at affordable prices.
Speaking on the occasion, USC Managing Director (MD) Umer Lodhi said the corporation is launching its well-equipped mobile van service on April 10 (Friday) in a bid to facilitate people with daily use commodities at their doorsteps.
He said initially the service would be launched in the federal capital and then it would be expanded the radius of its services to other cities of the country. He said this service would help people to get essential items of daily use at subsidized rates.
Providing details about the relief package during lockdown due to coronavirus and the upcoming holy month of Ramazan, the USC MD said the Prime Minister had announced special package to provide subsidy on five essential items, however, during Ramazan, the subsidy would be given on more items.
He said irrespective of hike in price of wheat flour or sugar in the open market, the Utility Stores would provide wheat flour at the rate of Rs800 per 20 kg and sugar at Rs68 per kg. Further, he said ghee would be sold at Rs170 per kg while a subsidy of Rs15 to 25 per kg would be provided on all pulses and gram flour (Besan).
Likewise a subsidy of Rs50 per kg would be given on tea and Rs30 per liter on milk, Rs25 per 1,500 ml bottle of beverages and Rs20 per 800 ml of beverages.
He said according to the PM package, a subsidy of Rs2.5 billion would be provided during the holy month of Ramazan, however, in case of increased demand, the subsidy would also be increased during the month so that the customers could get all the required items on subsidized rates.
He pointed out that there was no shortage of any item in the stores and they were fulfilling demand of the customers despite increase of sale by 5 to 10 times.
He said the sale of utility stores has increased from Rs350 million per month a year ago to Rs8 billion during last month. He said during last three months total sale of the utility stores was recorded at Rs25 billion. He added that sale target of the stores during the month of Ramazan was Rs30 billion.
He informed that at present 4,200 stores were operational while by next 15 to 20 days 200 more stores would be added to the chain and after Ramazan 300 more stores would be opened in various parts of the country.
Replying to a question of media persons, Dr Awan said that Corona Welfare Fund of the Prime Minister is being launched to look after the vulnerable segments of the society.
To another question, she said that policies of the government are being reviewed regularly at the meetings of National Coordination Committee, headed by the Prime Minister, and strategy for relief could be modified when deemed necessary.
She appreciated the role of philanthropists in fight against coronavirus.
Replying to a question, Umer Lodhi said after outbreak of coronavirus in the country, people were getting panic and they were buying more than their actual needs. – TLTP