LAHORE: The newly-installed political government in Punjab has repromulgated “the Punjab Price Control of Essential Commodities Ordinance 2024” to give legal cover to its administrative machinery in the implementation of price controls as Ramazan is around the corner and formal legislation may take time.

The earlier ordinance had lapsed on Feb 13 creating a void in the government’s powers in controlling prices of essential commodities until Sunday.

In the meantime, Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz has constituted a committee led by the additional chief secretary having administrative secretaries of law, industries, food, agriculture, livestock and home departments as well as one commissioner and a deputy commissioner as its members.

The committee has been tasked with consulting all stakeholders and presenting a proposal for legislation on whether a full-fledged price control department be established or the ways and means to effectively control essential commodities prices in the province – within three weeks or so.

Maryam forms panel to delineate price control paradigm in three weeks

The Punjab Price Control of Essential Commodities Ordinance 2024 has empowered the secretary industries, deputy commissioners, cane commissioner, director of food and 950 food control magistrates to fix prices of essential commodities; to control artificial price hike and profiteering of essential commodities across the province.

The caretaker government in Punjab had in November last year promulgated this ordinance to empower the provincial government’s machinery, which was earlier drawing powers by adopting the “Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act, 1977”.

The Punjab’s ordinance had allowed the government to establish a Price Control Council led by the minister for industries. The council was provided powers to get information of prices, review them and monitor actions taken under the ordinance.

The ordinance had empowered the secretary industries as Provincial Controller General, who may delegate his powers, and deputy commissioners as the controllers of prices and supplies in their respective districts.

PENALTIES: The offences under the ordinance are cognizable and non-bailable.

Any person, who contravenes any order made under the ordinance, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years but not less than 24 hours, or with a fine which may extend to Rs100,000 or with both.

In case of an offence for the second time after conviction, if convicted again for an offence under the ordinance, shall be punishable with imprisonment not less than one month or with fine not less than Rs45,000 or both.

Punjab Industries, Commerce, Investment and Skills Development Department Secretary Ehsan Bhutta told Dawn that the previous ordinance had lapsed on Feb 13 but the caretaker provincial cabinet’s decision minutes for re-promulgation was received by the department on Feb 24, when the newly formed Punjab Assembly was in session.

Mr Bhutta said that he along with Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman briefed Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz about the need for the reinforcement of price control powers as well as plans for formal legislation by the Punjab Assembly.

He said the chief minister allowed re-promulgation of the ordinance in the light of the caretaker cabinet’s decision to gain time to prepare for the legislation on the subject in the assembly.

The ordinance, for the first time, had emerged as a provincial legislation, secretary industry made the provincial controller general, introduced Price Control Council, devised a procedure for seizure of commodities and their disposal, summary trial of the offences as well as right of appeal in front of the divisional commissioner and consequently before the price control council.

Mr Bhutta said the committee constituted by the CM and led by the ACS would formulate proposals for the legislation and brief the chief minister in a matter of three weeks or so and then finally present before the new provincial cabinet – currently in the process of constitution – for its nod to take the matter to the Punjab Assembly for legislation.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

IMF’s unease
Updated 24 May, 2024

IMF’s unease

It is clear that the next phase of economic stabilisation will be very tough for most of the population.
Belated recognition
24 May, 2024

Belated recognition

WITH Wednesday’s announcement by three European states that they intend to recognise Palestine as a state later...
App for GBV survivors
24 May, 2024

App for GBV survivors

GENDER-based violence is caught between two worlds: one sees it as a crime, the other as ‘convention’. The ...
Energy inflation
Updated 23 May, 2024

Energy inflation

The widening gap between the haves and have-nots is already tearing apart Pakistan’s social fabric.
Culture of violence
23 May, 2024

Culture of violence

WHILE political differences are part of the democratic process, there can be no justification for such disagreements...
Flooding threats
23 May, 2024

Flooding threats

WITH temperatures in GB and KP forecasted to be four to six degrees higher than normal this week, the threat of...