ISLAMABAD: The PTI parliamentary board on Thursday short-listed the names of ruling alliance’s candidates for the upcoming senate polls and sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan for final decision.

An insider told Dawn, the candidates would be announced by the prime minister on Friday. He said names of 25 to 28 candidates had been finalised.

Presently opposition parties are in majority in the upper house of the parliament.

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar told Dawn that the board had not finalised the names of candidates and it would meet again on Friday to approve the names.

Meanwhile, in an interview with ARY channel, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed the confidence that upcoming Senate election would give the government majority in the parliament for smooth legislation. He said in a parliamentary democracy, reforms process could not take place without joint working of the government and the opposition.

Planning minister says names will be approved today

The prime minister said though it was the government’s responsibility to bring reforms, but it did not have majority to enact necessary legislation. To a question, the prime minister said the opposition’s criticism of open ballot could be a plan to deprive the government of majority in the Senate election.

Wheat supply

In a separate meeting, the government asked the provincial governments to ensure 80:20 grinding ratio of wheat (quality of flour).

The prime minister also tasked Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh to review the existing business model of procurement of wheat at government level and to suggest ways and means to cut down administrative costs being incurred during procurement, transmission and storage process of wheat.

Punjab food minister informed the prime minister that the provincial government had been releasing wheat to flour mills since July 7 and so far 3.6 tons of wheat has been released with a provision of Rs50 billion as subsidy.

He informed the meeting that Punjab was incurring a cost of Rs510 per 40kg of wheat in lieu of various charges including procurement, transmission and storage.

This additional burden was being absorbed by the provincial government and was not being passed on to the consumers.

Chief Secretary Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa briefed the prime minister about the existing regulatory mechanisms of the provinces for establishment of fruit and vegetable markets.

The prime minister was briefed about the existing provisions of Punjab Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority Act 2018 and its subsequent amendments.

He directed chief secretaries that the administration should ensure that commodities at retail level were provided to the consumers at official prices. He directed that strict action should be taken against the officials concerned in case of any neglect.

“The government official should realise the sufferings of the public due to artificial price hike and administrative failures,” he added.

Housing

Presiding over a meeting on housing, Prime Minister Khan was apprised that within few weeks, over 8,000 applications have been received in mark-up subsidy scheme by the banks of them 1,820 applications have been approved with an outlay of Rs5 billion.

Pending applications are being processed expeditiously.

Secretary Housing informed the prime minister that an MoU has been signed with two banks through which loans with no ceiling limit would be provided for construction and purchase of new houses to the segments which are not covered under government’s mark-up scheme.

The prime minister directed governor State Bank and Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority to continuously follow the process of access to easy loans by low-income groups and remove all difficulties on priority basis.

Earlier, the prime minister also chaired a meeting to review progress on Ravi Urban Development project and Central Business District in Lahore. The Prime Minister was informed that five investors have submitted request for proposals during recently held investors’ conference. Two more investors have also shown their interest towards the project.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2021

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