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ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the federal cabinet has expressed serious concern over recent spike in coronavirus cases in the country with fear that danger for the second wave increases, urging the people to follow the SOPs to avert the situation.

The meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday also discussed overall situation of prices, especially of sugar and flour as it was told that Punjab and Sindh governments would increase daily release of wheat in the market to deal with the challenge of prices.

The prime minister has directed that a detailed report should be provided to the next meeting with regard to current stock of the commodities - wheat and sugar - their prices, measures taken to meet the requirements, and other factor contributing to increase in the prices.

The meeting of the federal cabinet was briefed on the current stock of wheat, import to meet the future requirement of the country, and was informed that daily release of wheat would be increased by the Punjab to 25,000 tons from existing 17,000 tons, and Sindh would also release 50,000 tons wheat from October 20 to October 31.

The meeting was further informed that Punjab government had assured to ensure availability of wheat at USC as per requirement and Sindh government had also assured that wheat would be released to the flour mills as per their requirement.

The meeting reiterated its resolve to ensure availability of sufficient wheat in the country but all the measures would be taken to deal with the challenge of price increase. While giving briefing on the current stock of sugar in the country, the federal cabinet has been informed that physical verification process of sugar stock in the mills has been started, after the sugar commission report.

The meeting was further informed that average monthly increase in sugar consumption was noted around two to 2.5 lac ton, hence, a decision was taken to import the sugar to meet the requirement and in the next few days, two lac ton sugar would reach in the country.

Additionally, the meeting was also informed the crushing season would be started in next 20 days, and there would be penalty of Rs5 million daily on delay in crushing. On corona issue, the meeting stressed the need for greater adherence of the SOPs and other precautionary measures subsequent to the increase in the number of corona cases in the country as the number of cases during the current month was much greater compared to July and August.

The COVID-19 positivity ratio surged to two percent in the current month from single digit during the previous two months. The meeting was presented a cheque of Rs1.033 million to the prime minister for PM COVID Relief Fund by the MQM Minister for Information Technology, Syed Aminul Haq.

The federal cabinet has approved temporary management committee of the Gun and Country Club, endorsed decision of reform committee meeting dated October 7, 2020, granted approval for placing Sindh Infrastructure Development Board under the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives, endorsed decision of the ECC meeting of October 14 and 15, 2020, granted approval for issuance of 98 licenses, withdrawal 18 as well as transfer of 10 licenses overseas employment promotion licenses.

The meeting also endorsed decision of the cabinet committee on legislation dated October 19, 2020, and CCOE decision of October 15, 2020. The meeting reportedly discussed overall political and economic situation of the country especially in the wake of recent anti-government drive of the opposition.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020