ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Friday approved wrapping up of the SME Bank on the recommendations of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), but issued directives to ensure the protection of consumers’ deposits.

The cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif fixed the support price of 40 kilograms of cotton crop.

In another decision, the meeting approved a bill concerning protection of lawyers.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Mr Sharif directed the SME Bank’s management to ensure protection of the customers’ deposits during the bank’s winding down process.

It was decided that all of the bank customers would be paid Rs5.557 billion, in the first phase.

According to the PMO, the meeting approved the support price of Rs8,500 per 40kg of cotton. Increase in the support price is aimed at ensuring more profit for growers, the PMO said.

The decision was taken in the light of recommendations of the Economic Coordination Committee made during its meetings on March 14 and 15.

PM calls for protection of depositors’ interest; free wheat flour for less privileged people of Punjab, KP

The cabinet approved the Lawyers Protection Bill 2023 for its onward tabling before the parliament.

On the Finance Ministry’s recommendation, the cabinet granted ex-post facto approval to 15 bilateral and two multilateral MoUs of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan with different countries and international institutions.

Subsidised and free wheat flour

Presiding over another meeting, Prime Minister Sharif announced free wheat flour to be provided to deserving and poor families in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the holy month of Ramazan. While the commodity will be provided on subsidised rates in Balochistan.

“It is for the first time in the history of the country that a package has been devised to provide Atta free of cost to poor people during Ramazan,” the prime minister said at the meeting.

Mr Sharif said he would not tolerate any negligence that will compromise the quality of flour to be given to poor people free of cost. He said the government was making all-out efforts to provide relief to the inflation-hit poor and middle class families in the country.

The meeting was apprised that 16 million households will get free flour in Punjab. However, no such details were released regarding KP.

People can ascertain their eligibility for free flour by sending their Computerised National Identity Card number to the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) number 8171 through SMS.

The meeting was also informed that wheat flour will also be provided on subsidised rates in Balochistan through 50 Ramazan Bazaars.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2023

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