LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Monday that government steps to control essential items' prices were showing good results, however, a lot had yet to be done.
Chairing a meeting to review prices of essential commodities here, he emphasized on a more active role of the cabinet committee by monitoring and visiting vegetable markets and bazaars to keep the edible prices within reach of common man.
No one would be allowed to fix prices of necessary items arbitrarily, while, production of agri items would have to be increased so as to overcome shortage of vegetables and pulses in future, he added.
The Chief Minister said that relief to common man was prime responsibility of government and the cabinet committee should perform its duties with a national spirit. The relevant departments, he said, should also work hard to bring down prices of vegetables, fruit, pulses and other items for benefit of the citizens.
Shahbaz Sharif said the cabinet committee, the Chief Secretary and Inspector General Police should pay visits to three districts a week to monitor prices, asserting that his aircraft and helicopter would be available for the purpose.
The cabinet committee should also ensure abundant supply of essential commodities, besides appointing honest and hardworking Price Control Magistrates, who should pay visits to markets and bazaars and submit a report on daily basis. He directed the police to accompany the respective magistrates during their visits to markets and bazaars.
The Chief Minister directed that decision regarding setting up of Sastay Bazaars three-day week throughout Punjab be implement at any cost and no compromise be made on the quality of fruit, vegetables and pulses in Sastay Bazars. He said the ministers concerned would be responsible for supply of quality items in Sastay Bazars and would submit a report.
Shahbaz Sharif directed that administrative officers should monitor the process of fixing of rates of agri items in markets and take immediate action to curb profiteering, adding, the system of direct sale of agric produces in markets be further improved to eliminate middleman's role to ensure better returns to the farmers. He said the Commissioners, RPOs, DPOs and other officers should check prices in agri market at 4:00am early in the morning three times a week.
The Chief Minister ordered immediate removal of Chairmen Market Committees involved in corruption and initiate action against them under the law without any discrimination. He also issued instructions for giving a final shape to the proposed law for further activating market committees and directed that cabinet committee should review draft of the law and submit a final report.
Agriculture Department should submit a detailed plan for increasing production of vegetables and pulses as well as provision of facilities to the cultivators, and the plan should also cover the future needs, besides evolving a strategy to implement tunnel farming project, he said.
Shahbaz Sharif also directed the Punjab Food Department to consider setting up of stock exchange for easy availability of pulses at reasonable rates throughout the year and said that cooperation of private sector be sought for this purpose so that steps could be taken in advance to control shortage of pulses. He said that a project should be devised for cultivation of vegetables and fruit during off-season and modern technology be used for this purpose.
The Chief Minister directed Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) that in addition to online monitoring system of the fixed prices, a comprehensive system should also be evolved for promoting awareness among the citizens about the rates of essential commodities. He said that digital technology should be used for monitoring efficiency of the staff deputed for checking of prices as well as that of the field staff.
He said the revelant departments would have to perform their responsibility with commitment and efficiency so that necessary items could be made available to the citizens at reasonable rates. He warned that no laxity or negligence would be tolerated in this regard.
The Chief Minister also ordered stern action against the petrol pumps involved in overcharging and said that the pump owners looting the citizens deserve no leniency. He said that DCOs and DPOs would be responsible for curbing overcharging by patrol pumps in their respective areas.
The Secretary Industry, Secretary Food and Special Secretary Agriculture gave detailed briefings to the meeting on the subject.
Punajb Ministers Bilal Yasin, Dr. Farrukh Javed and Muhammad Shafique, Special Assistant Arshad Jutt, MPAs and senior bureaucrats were present.