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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday directed the Punjab and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments to present an implementable plan within 24 hours for increasing the number of farmer markets to move towards compliance instead of seeking NOC from the government.

The provincial government would come up with a workable plan to allow the private sector to establish their own markets, rationalization of the regulatory regime with a shift towards compliance regime and doing away with the condition of obtaining NOC from the government for setting up a farm market.

The decision was taken during a high-level meeting presided over by the prime minister to review the progress of administrative measures for bringing down prices of essential commodities. The prime minister has also tasked the provincial chief secretaries to present a comprehensive plan for rationalization of wheat grinding ratio to enhance production of flour, on the one hand, and to bring down flour prices on the other. The Prime Minister’s Office said that the prime minister expressed serious concern over the existing price difference at wholesale and retail levels, varying even at district level.

The prime minister observed that existence of huge price difference at the two levels pointed towards weak implementation mechanism and inefficient regulatory mechanism. He further stated that limited number of farmers markets in the major cities was one of the causes of exploitation of farmers, undue profits being made by the middlemen and resultant price hike that adversely affected the poor.

The prime minister has also taken notice of the complaints of non-adherence to officially determined price list of essential commodities, at retail level, and directed that strict action be taken against violators.

The chief secretaries briefed the meeting about action taken against various flour mills over violations including less grinding of wheat released by the provincial governments.

Federal ministers, advisors, provincial ministers and senior officials were present during the meeting. Provincial chief secretaries of the four provinces attended the meeting via video link.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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