LAHORE: The provincial government is considering to change the existing wheat and flour subsidy system in an apparent move to plug loopholes in the present mechanism.

Punjab Food Minister Abdul Aleem Khan is learnt to have tasked the [food] department authorities to prepare recommendations for revising the current subsidy system and replacing it with the new one that prescribes direct and targeted subsidy for the deserving instead of giving it to flour mills and other institutions.

Presiding over a high-level meeting here on Monday, the minister directed the officers concerned to complete homework for “targeted subsidy” in the province also taking on board the federal government.

He was concerned that five-star hotels and “dhabas” (roadside eateries) are enjoying the same subsidy on flour supply through the current system that’s not justified.

Mr Khan was quoted as telling the authorities to devise a plan for distinguishing between the rich and the poor in the provision of the subsidy and the money thus saved may be used for enhancing subsidy on the flour meant for the have-nots.

He said the “Ehsaas Programme” database might be used to identify the deserving people for the provision of the subsidy and accomplishing the task at the earliest.

The food department procures maximum wheat at the minimum support price at the harvesting of the crop and then releases it to various flour mills as per their capacity and quota at subsidised rate throughout the year.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2020