ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed on Monday that the prices of vegetables in the country had declined significantly and warned that those involved in the artificial price hike would be dealt with an iron hand.
In a tweet, the prime minister said: “As a result of the government’s focus on price control, substantial decrease in prices, especially in vegetable prices, can now be seen. I assure our people that I will not relent until all involved in artificially-created price hike are identified and punished.”
PM Khan had tasked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) with probing the recent sugar and wheat crises in the country. The FIA had prepared its report, but the prime minister was not satisfied with it and directed the agency to come up with a comprehensive report by answering 20 additional questions about the price hike and hoarding of sugar and wheat/flour.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had said at a recent press conference that the government would share the FIA report with people.
The opposition had accused ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) stalwart Jehangir Tareen and federal Minister for Food Security Khusro Bakhtiar of having been involved in the sugar and wheat crises. However, Prime Minister Khan had given a clean chit to both and said the FIA in its report had not nominated them for any wrongdoing.
Vows to identify and punish people involved in ‘artificially-created price hike’
Meanwhile, the prime minister chaired a meeting on science and technology and was apprised that Pakistan could increase export of 252 items by improving their quality and standard through latest technology.
Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry informed the prime minister that the quality of 252 items, including chemicals, biotechnology, machinery, textile, base metals and plastic, could be improved by using technology and huge foreign exchange could be generated through their exports.
The minister also gave a detailed briefing on different hi-tech industrial development-oriented projects and said that in the first phase progress would be made in herbal food and medicines.
The meeting was also briefed on the progress so far made on the Jhelum Industrial Biotechnology Park project.
The prime minister appreciated the suggestions made by Mr Chaudhry regarding improvement in production and export of technology-based items.
The prime minister was informed that the science and technology ministry had successfully got vacated 50 acres of land worth billions of rupees belonging to the Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) from a close relative of a politician.
At a separate meeting, the prime minister said the government was striving hard to reduce electricity tariff to provide relief to the masses. He said faulty international agreements were the main cause of increase in the price of electricity, but his government was working to overcome these challenges. “However, no increase was made in the price of electricity on use of 1-300 units to provide relief to the common man,” he added.
The prime minister said the energy sector was playing a significant role in the country’s economy and it was the government’s top priority to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity to domestic consumer and industrial sector, besides making reforms in the energy sector.
Chairing another meeting on tourism, the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to make a comprehensive plan in six months to open tourism at four places in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and one each in Punjab and Balochistan.
The prime minister directed the KP chief secretary to complete the process of revival of government rest houses in the province and its handing over to the private sector for the promotion of tourism.
According to APP, Prime Minister Khan said there was a lot of tourism potential in Pakistan and promotion of this sector would not only strengthen the economy but also create business and job opportunities to the local people.
The meeting deliberated on the promotion of tourism in KP, Punjab and coastal areas of the country, and protection and renovation of historic buildings in Northern Areas.
The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to lay down a policy about the promotion of tourism keeping in view the environmental, natural beauty and local values and traditions. He ordered formulation of an advance policy and taking measures regarding provision of facilities to the tourists on their arrival in the northern areas in the coming months.
The prime minister was informed that three zones had been completed at Ghizar, Astore and Shigar in Gilgit-Baltistan for promotion of tourism. The meeting was told that help was being sought from the Agha Khan Foundation about protection and renovation of old buildings for promotion of tourism in Northern Areas.
Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020