ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Industries and Production was informed on Monday that the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) was in the process of procuring 53,333 tonnes of wheat flour which would be sold at subsidised rates.
However, the committee was informed by USC Managing Director Umer Lodhi that currently 1,103 tonnes of wheat flour was available with the corporation. He said 200,000 tonnes of wheat was provided to the USC by the government and after grinding it, flour had been distributed to all USC outlets.
The chairman of the NA committee, Sajid Hussain Turi, inquired about the price difference between the commodities, mainly wheat flour, being sold at USC outlets and the open market.
Mr Lodhi informed the committee that wheat flour was cheaper by Rs5-10 per kilogram at USC outlets and after the recent release of Rs6 billion subsidy, the price had been streamlined at Rs40 per kilogram. He said that the subsidy amount had been released to USC outlets.
The members of the committee expressed concern over the shortage of wheat flour in the country.
Managing director says there is no shortage of commodity at utility stores
The USC managing director said there was no shortage of wheat flour at USC outlets, but there were reports of haste buying which was aggravating the situation in some areas.
The committee was also informed about the situation of sugar’s stock at USC outlets which was being sold at Rs75 per kilogram. The open market rate of sugar is around Rs80 at retail end, whereas it is less at large cash and carry stores.
The financial management of the USC was also discussed in the meeting. Mr Lodhi informed the committee that around 50 per cent pending liabilities to contractors had been released and the remaining amount would be released over the next six months. The USC had huge pending liabilities of Rs8.3bn, which have now been reduced to Rs3.9bn.
The committee also inquired about safety measures in locally manufactured and assembled vehicles. It was informed that there was no mechanism of safety and standard for vehicles in the country.
Officials of the Ministry of Industries and Production informed committee that it was not its mandate to ensure standard and quality of locally assembled cars and other vehicles, but it was the direct responsibility of its attached department, the Engineering Development Board (EDB).
Industries Secretary Afzal Latif said that currently there was no Pakistani standard for quality of vehicles and their parts. He also said that currently there was no mechanism to check the standard of vehicles or their parts in the country.
He added that the standard development and enforcement was the mandate of the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) which was an attached department of the Ministry of Science and Technology. But an official of the EDB present in the committee said that standard for the auto sector was neither the mandate of the PSQCA nor any other government department.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2020