PM for steps to bring down prices of essential items

August 29, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting regarding ease of doing business at PM Office on Wednesday. — APP
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting regarding ease of doing business at PM Office on Wednesday. — APP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the authorities concerned in the federal capital and two provinces — Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — to thrash out a plan to provide relief to the masses and ensure stability in prices of essential commodities.

“Such a system should be devised that ensures no additional burden is put on the common man,” the prime minister was quoted as saying during a meeting on Wednesday.

According to the Prime Minister Office (PMO), the meeting was attended, among others, by Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, the federal secretary interior, the chief secretaries of Punjab and KP, and the chief commissioner of Islamabad.

The prime minister issued a directive for launch of a crackdown against hoarders and profiteers and the use of latest technology for the purpose.

He was of the view that surprise inspection of wholesale markets must be ensured and people should be kept apprised about prices.

Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed the need for transparency in auction of fruits and vegetables in wholesale markets so that no one could deprive farmers of their income and reward for hard work.

The participants discussed a proposal for formation of market committees to control profiteering and hoarding.

“Provision of Roti (bread) is a responsibility of the state and therefore all-out efforts should be made in this regard,” the prime minister said.

He revealed that the government was considering a proposal for provision of essential commodities to deserving families under the Ehsas programme.

The chief secretaries of Punjab and KP briefed the participants on prices in their provinces and the action being taken against hoarders and profiteers.

The meeting decided to address grievances of Nanbais (roti makers) after it was apprised about their reservations over the price stipulated by the government.

Ease of Doing Business In a separate meeting Prime Minister Khan directed the Board of Investment (BOI) to complete the consultation process with stakeholders for streamlining and simplifying laws related to doing business.

He called for completing the process of “guillotining” unnecessary regulations as soon as possible so as to improve ease of doing business.

The meeting, which focused on removal of regulatory hurdles, was attended by the Adviser on Commerce, Mr Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, BOI Chairman Zubair Gilani, Punjab Industries Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal and the World Bank’s Country Director for Pakistan.

The prime minister said special attention should be paid to promotion of digital economy and digital solutions should be offered to firms in the information technology sector.

He said facilitating investors and increasing ease of doing business were among the government’s priorities. “Automation of the regulatory procedure and online availability of required information will help businesses run smooth operations,” he added.

The prime minister was informed that in compliance with his directives, the ministries of petroleum and housing, the power division and BOI would present their proposals for removal of unnecessary regulatory hurdles in their jurisdiction.

He directed all other divisions to come up with similar plans at the earliest.

Speaking on the occasion, BOI Chairman Zubair Gilani said an extensive stakeholders’ consultation process was under way for removing hurdles in doing business. This process involves elimination of irrelevant or obsolete regulations, review of existing regulatory framework and amendment in existing laws.

The meeting was informed that a digital “Business Regulatory Mapping Portal” had been designed to ensure transparency and accuracy in transactions through e-commerce.

The prime minister was apprised by Punjab’s industries minister that the provincial government had undertaken a number of initiatives to facilitate businesses. Among them are unifying of taxes, eliminating inspection, offering one-window facilitation and introducing the Punjab Smart Regulation Act.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2019