LAHORE: The wheat price has declined by Rs10 per kilogramme in the last three days – from Rs70 to Rs60 per kg – and it will surely slide more in the next few days, says Jamshaid Iqbal Cheema, former special assistant to prime minister on food security.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, he claimed that out of seven main crops, Pakistan had set new production record in six. “This addition, on average, has added Rs165,000 to income of every farming family. It means 8.30 million farmer families have benefitted from the PTI agriculture policies,” he told the media.

Flanked by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill, he said it were not only farming families but 9.5 million non-resident Pakistanis had also seen their income risen because of weakening rupee. So, 17.80 million families have reaped direct benefits of PTI policies. In addition to them, 100 main corporate entities, which used to earn a profit of Rs580 billion, have seen their profit risen by 60 per cent – to Rs936 billion. The government is now pressing them to share it with their employees and some of them are responding to the request, he told his audience.

Drawing on sliding wheat price, he said the PRRO spends 54 per cent of his income on food and the PTI policies have started yielding results as shown by wheat price. Moong has seen a dip of 27 per cent in price as well. The fruit prices have gone up only three per cent in the last three years. All this shows that the government was bringing food prices down to help the poor.

Speaking about escalating energy prices, he said: “Since the upper middle class and the rich are main consumer of electricity, they do not hurt the poor as much. Substantiating his claim, he said that the poor spend only 27 per cent of its income on energy against 54 per cent on food. The food relief is already taking effect and more would follow.

Shahbaz Gill took a jibe at the opposition which, he said, was attempting to bring a no-confidence motion only to protect their corruption. The Sharifs of Punjab, Zardari from Sindh and Maulana Fazlur Rehman were part of the same mafia and they got united because of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s campaign against corruption.

He said that the opposition wanted to bring no-confidence motion to escape accountability. “In the past, they had been calling each other thieves,” he added.

The SAPM said that there was no more time for Shehbaz Sharif as indictment with all proofs of his corruption was ready and now only punishment was to be awarded. Now Shehbaz Sharif, along with rest of the opposition, was trying to save himself from indictment, he said.

Dr Gill said the prime minister would never give NRO or make any compromise with anyone as he was firm in his stance. Some medals should be spared for Shehbaz and Zardari for making the poor vendors and peons billionaires, as Shehbaz Sharif appointed Maqsood as a peon for Rs9,000 monthly salary and then Rs4 billion were transferred from his account to the opposition leader. Likewise, he added that billions of rupees were kept in the bank accounts of poor employees by Asif Ali Zardari.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2022

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