• Sharjeel says cabinet approved Rs15.6bn relief package • Fine amount doubled to check profiteering, hoarding
• Move to set up bachat bazaar in each taluka
KARACHI: The Sindh government on Tuesday approved a Rs15.6 billion Ramazan package to give relief to over 7.8 million low-income families registered under the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) by providing them Rs2,000 extra for purchase of wheat flour.
Briefing journalists about decisions taken in the meeting of the provincial cabinet held on Tuesday, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon and Chief Minister’s Law Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab said that the relief would be extended to the families having Rs50,000 or less monthly income, adding that Rs2,000 per family would be disbursed for one month under the initiative.
The information minister said that the cash transfer to the targeted families would be made through the BISP for which eligible families would receive a message on their cell phone.
He said those who do not receive such a message but their average income is less than Rs50,000 per month could send a message/CNIC number on 8171 for inquiring about eligibility for the subsidy.
He said at present there were 7.8m families in the data of BISP having Rs50,000 or less monthly income. “But if it becomes 10 million, the Sindh government is committed to providing them relief,” he said.
Amendment to price control law — fine increased
Minister Memon said that the cabinet also approved amendments to the Sindh Essential Commodities Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act-2005 to improve price control mechanism during Ramazan.
He said that under the amendments, the fine for failure to display the price list of essential commodities had been increased from Rs50,000 to Rs100,000 for producers or dealers, Rs20,000 for retailers other than pushcart vendors, and Rs10,000 to Rs20,000 for pushcart vendors.
The minister said that the fine had also been increased over a retailer’s failure to declare stock of essential commodities from Rs50,000 to Rs100,000 and sale of different commodities at a higher price than the notified/company price the fine had been increased from Rs50,000 to Rs100,000.
Besides, he said that the chief minister had directed the chief secretary to ensure establishment of Bachat Bazaars in each Taluka, where the subsidised provision of flour, sugar, ghee, and other essential edibles would be ensured.
He said that the cabinet decided to launch a drive against profiteering and hoarding. The market committees were directed to ensure the provision of vegetables and other items at reduced prices.
“In some areas fruit associations are being encouraged to establish their own stalls with lower prices,” he added.
The minister said that the Ghee Mills Association would provide oil and ghee at subsidised rates from 10am to 4pm at the designated markets to be notified by commissioners.
Mr Memon said that the cabinet also decided to enforce an ordinance to discourage hoarding and profiteering, under which powers of magistrate were being given to food department officers and other relevant officers.
“Amount of fine for profiteering and selling goods above official rates is also being increased,” he said.
Reservations on census
The information minister said that the provincial cabinet had also expressed serious reservations over the ongoing digital census process.
He said that the provincial government was not satisfied with the measures taken by the federal government till now. “If our reservations are not removed, the census will become controversial,” he warned.
He said that great injustice had been done to Sindh in the previous census, which was not accepted by the provincial government.
Responding to a question, he said that the cabinet meeting included the agenda of revision of fare of the Peoples Bus Service; however, the chief minister decided to defer it till the end of Ramazan so that maximum relief could be provided to the people.
Meanwhile, the cabinet was also told that under the provincial policy directive for the security of oil pipeline system approved by the provincial cabinet on Feb 6, 2023, the responsibility of neutralising all threats posed to the national network of oil pipeline system from short to long term basis had been assigned to the home department — the police and district administrations concerned.
The cabinet assigned the task to the police and district administrations to monitor critical, non-traditional security threats of terrorism posed to the national network of oil pipeline system under National Counter Terrorism Authority.
Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2023
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