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Rupee devaluation necessitated drug price hike, NA told

Updated April 27, 2019

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The house was also informed that while the government was providing subsidy to people for the forthcoming Ramazan.
The house was also informed that while the government was providing subsidy to people for the forthcoming Ramazan.

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Friday that the government had increased drug prices by 30 per cent due to recent devaluation of rupee.

The house was also informed that while the government was providing subsidy to people for the forthcoming holy month of Ramazan through the Utility Stores Corporation (USC), the organiation had not paid outstanding dues of Rs319 million to the mills for the wheat flour purchased for Ramazan last year.

The legislators also learnt that over Rs3m was spent on four moon sighting meetings of the Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee last year.

Besides, the National Assembly was apprised that 23,757 HIV/aidS patients had been registered in 35 treatment centers across the country, including 4,170 women and 379 members of the transgender community.

In a written reply to a question, the health ministry informed the house that the federal government had approved an increase in maximum retail prices of drugs due to devaluation of rupee — at the rate of 30 per cent.

It said that prices of 490 medicines were increased under the hardship category vide SRO 1610 (1)/2018 dated 31-12-2018 after approval of the federal government.

However, the government since then took several steps for reducing the drug prices with the result that prices of 400 medicines came down.

In reply to a question, the house was apprised that about 175,454 people lost their lives because of kidney failure in the country from 2013 to 2017. According to the data placed before the lower house of parliament, 33,015 kidney patients died in the year 2013, 34,207 in 2014, 35,167 in 2015, 36,221 in 2016 and 36,844 in 2017.

MNA Saleh Mohammad said that the USC had to pay outstanding dues to flour mill-owners for the wheat flour it had bought during Ramazan last year. The ministry of industry and production said that Rs319m was to be repaied according to the USC’s books.

According to the ministry of religious affairs, Rs3.06m was spent on moon sightingmeetings on four occasions in the last year — Muharramul Haram, Ramzanul Mubarak, Shawwalul Mukarram (Eidul Ftr) and Zil Haj (Eidul Azha).

The allocated budget of Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee was Rs3.24m for the year 2017-18 and Rs3.06m was spent on TA/DA, boarding and lodging expenses of members of the committee which are equal to the allowances of a joint secretary of grade 20 along with payment of Rs1,000 to each member as conveyance and mobile charges.

The National Assembly was also informed that 23,757 HIV/AIDS patients had been registered in 35 treatment centers.

They include 18,220 male patients, 4,170 females, 379 members of the transgender community, 564 male children and 424 girls.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2019