LAHORE: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid says problems related to the price hike, flour crisis etc exist due to negligence of the government as the opposition is just relaxing these days and doing nothing in this regard.

“As far as I know, there is no complaint related to ‘commission’ earned by anyone within the government. But there is negligence on the part of the government. Moreover the ‘Sharif type of opposition’ is just relaxing as it did nothing except buying four to six coats and a couple of hats. Besides that, it did nothing,” he said while responding to questions asked by the journalists in a media talk after he inaugurated a new freight train at the Mughalpura Dry Port on Saturday.

The minister admitted that the government couldn’t deal with the flour crisis in the country.

“I raised voice against export of wheat in the ECC, the cabinet and the export committee. We are responsible for the flour crisis. Moreover, the sugar price also touched Rs78 per Kg,” he said, confessing that answer to all questions in this regard was that we (the government) failed to deal with the flour issue. He sought constitution of an empowered high profile price control committee to control the unbridled price hike in the country.

The minister rejected the Transparency International report on the increase in corruption in Pakistan, terming it false and baseless. “The TI’s report seems false as it is the (PTI) government that laid a stone of honesty in the country.”

Mr Rashid said the problems faced by the PTI government during the 16 months were never seen by the previous government in its five years tenure.

He held mills’ owners responsible for increasing the sugar prices.

The minister said though the nation was paying price of USD 6bn IMF loan these days, the situation would improve in the future.

“I know the sentence I spoke is tough. But finally this loan would be helpful for our country’s better future,” he claimed.

Talking about his ministry, Mr Rashid said the railways had a plan to construct five new dry ports in various cities, including Sheikhupura, Wazirabad and Jia Bagga (Lahore). He offered the business community to come forward and take over control of the Mughalpura Dry Port.

“Our officers are ready to render cooperate if you come forward and take over this port. We want the private sector to join hands with us.”

The minister said he would retire after completion of the ML-1 (main line-1) project.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2020