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The process of grading restaurants and eateries by the Punjab Food Authority (PFA) and making the grades public is going on at a slow pace for the last couple of months. The reason is absence of the authority’s director general (DG) due to domestic issues as well as lack of interest by restaurant owners.

Under the law, the PFA DG is the only authority to grade restaurants, make them public and ensure display of the graded and category (A, B, C, D) an establishment falls in.

According to the PFA, 85 out of hundreds of restaurants were categorised under A, B, C and D class and made public from Sept to Dec 2015. According to that classification, the number of A grade restaurants with 90 or above marks and falling in the ‘no risk’ category was 38. There were 31 restaurants in grade B with marks between 85 and 90 in the ‘negligible risk’ category. The number of C grade restaurants falling in the ‘low risk’ category with over 75 and below 80 marks was 12. Only four restaurants were classified in grade D and stood in ‘medium risk’ category with over 65 but below 70 marks.

On the other hand, PFA Director (Operations) Ayesha Mumtaz was of the view that financial crunch and absence of the DG were the main reasons behind delay in the completion of restaurants classification.

“Under the law, the owners are liable to get their restaurants’ service/standard calculated and assessed for categorisation or grading in order to keep the public aware of it. And the DG is the authority empowered to make such information public on the authority’s website and other networks. The owners too are responsible for displaying the grade and category they fall in,” she told Dawn.

She said as per plan, the PFA also had to develop a specific software in this regard. But it couldn’t be prepared so far due to financial constraints.

Right now, the secretary of the food department held additional charge of the PFA head after the DG went on leave last month. Since the food secretary is already engaged in a lot of official work especially when the government plans to purchase wheat across the province very soon, the authorities should make efforts to complete categorisation by appointing a new DG or delegating powers to a senior official of the authority or food department.

It is a good news that the City District Government of Lahore plans to intensify its anti-beggary drive by constituting joint teams comprising officials of the city administration, social welfare department, police and a local non-government organisation.

Currently, several major points of the city, including The Mall, Jail Road, Multan Road, Ferozepur Road, intersections, railway station and markets, were hotspots for a large number of beggars.

“They spread to various locations daily and earn huge money. They also cause nuisance to motorists, pedestrians and traffic,” said an official.

He said in a meeting held last week it had been decided that the drive once started vigorously would continue till achieving the desired results.

khalidpak284@yahoo.com

Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2016