The federal cabinet, expressing dissatisfaction over the performance of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), issued directives to take concrete steps for ensuring food security and bringing to book hoarders and profiteering cartels.
Briefing journalists about cabinet decisions, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had summoned the commission’s high-ups over a briefing on flour and sugar hoarding and its role in controlling this practice.
The cabinet was informed that most of the laws related to the food security were obsolete and there was no harmony between the federation and the provinces in this regard. She said that the prime minister gave observation that the commission had failed in its role to ensure food security and issued directives with a time-line for its reforms and empowerment.
CCP TRIBUNAL: The special assistant said that the Ministry of Law was directed to pursue cases of stay orders by edible items mill cartels. She said that the cabinet also requested the judiciary to decide such cases on priority as they were related to the public interest. The prime minister expressed displeasure over the vacant post of a CCP tribunal member and called for the earliest filling of the post.
Moreover, the cabinet constituted a committee, headed by prime minister’s aide Dr. Ishrat Hussain, to amend food security laws in the country. The committee would present its report in one month which would be approved by the cabinet as a food security policy to get rid of the elements involved in hoarding and adulteration of edible items.
During a briefing by Water and Power Division, the cabinet was informed that when the government came to power, circular debt was very high which was brought down by this government. The cabinet was informed that Rs 242 billion subsidies were given to protect consumers using up to 300 electricity units from fuel adjustment affects.
She said that the industrial sector was given Rs 29 billion subsidies whereas Rs 100 billion subsidies were given to the agriculture sector. The prime minister also directed the Water and Power Division to bring the summary of fixed billing for tube-well farmers in the next meeting. The cabinet also asked the division to take steps for redressing reservations about tampering of meters by relevant government employees which results in additional burden on consumers.
The cabinet appreciated the performance of the Water and Power Division in controlling line losses and taking steps to introduce regulatory mechanisms in DISCOs. The Oil and Gas Division informed the cabinet that it inherited Rs 181 billion deficit due to bad policies of the previous government but it formulated a structural plan to save consumers from a major increase in gas bills.
The cabinet was informed that Rs 10 billion subsidies were given to the fertilizer industry to ensure stability in the prices of fertilizers. She said the domestic consumers were given Rs 19 billion subsidies last year whereas the estimate of the subsidy for the ongoing year was Rs 30 billion. The Oil and Gas Division was directed to activate its redundant meter manufacturing industry to reduce the extra cost of gas meters, bought from the market.