Procurement regime never helped farmers: Bakht

Published February 21, 2019
Punjab Finance Minister Makhdum Hashim Jawan Bakht says commodity operation benefited one out of 10 people but govt had to pay heavy price on refinancing debt stocks. — File photo
Punjab Finance Minister Makhdum Hashim Jawan Bakht says commodity operation benefited one out of 10 people but govt had to pay heavy price on refinancing debt stocks. — File photo

LAHORE: The Punjab government has accumulated debt of Rs447 billion on account of its commodity operations – wheat procurement, warehousing and sale – in the last 10 years, according to provincial finance minister Makhdum Hashim Jawan Bakht.

Speaking at a leadership convention on Wednesday, the minister said the entire commodity operation in food benefitted a maximum of one out of 10 people but the government had to pay a heavy price on refinancing the debt stocks and warehousing in addition to pilferages. He said the procurement had never helped the farmers. He nevertheless said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government had brought down the commodity-related debt by plugging the system inefficiencies.

Says commodity operation benefitted one out of 10 people but govt had to pay heavy price on refinancing debt stocks

“We believe in increasing the role of the private sector. We see government as a facilitator. So when we talk about ease of doing business it is not about a better position on the World Bank rankings; it is much more than that”, the minister said. “It is for the first time that the Punjab government is looking at each and every regulation with a view to facilitating the private business. Each provincial department has been tasked to look into each and every regulation, law and implement certain standardised measures to make them business friendly. It is necessary to simplify the laws, regulations and rules and reduce their number to support the private sector.”

Makhdum said the government was also looking at different venues for generating more resources for development. “Punjab has to unlock the potential of its cities for revenue generation.” He believed that the role of the private sector was to lead from the front to create jobs. He said Pakistan missed the early opportunity of industrialisation in which the world moved from agrarian society to industrialised society. However, now in the new age of digitisation both the government and the private sector should play their role for leapfrogging growth.

Nishat Group chairman Mian Mohammad Mansha earlier said every incumbent government heavily relied on loans instead of reviewing its assets and potential. But he appreciated the government for thinking out-of-box solution by adopting different approach to the problems facing the country.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019

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