- The government plans to link the national identity card/Ehsaas card of the beneficiaries with the Utility Stores
Islamabad: The government has planned for making targeted subsidy at the Utility Stores only to the Ehsaas beneficiaries by linking their cards/national identity cards with the sales points.
This was revealed by senior officials of the Ministry of Industries and Production and the Utility Stores Corporation (USC), while briefing the Senate Standing Committee, here on Thursday, where strong reservations were shown on selling of sub-standard items.
The Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production met with Syed Faisal Ali Subzwari in the chair, here on Thursday, where a detailed briefing was given on the functions and performance of the USC.
The committee was also informed that the government is planning to link the national identity card/Ehsaas card of the beneficiaries with the Utility Stores, which would only allow them to get subsidised items.
The main objective is to make the government subsidy more targeted.
Regarding subsidies, the committee stressed the need for benefits to trickle down to the neediest. It recommended franchising.
The ministry informed the committee that the government plans to make these stores into a targeted-subsidy tool.
Reviewing the performance of the Utility Stores, the committee was of the view that stringent measures must be taken to curb pilferage, theft, and other irregularities. It recommended that these stores must resort to the ERP system, which will keep logistics in check.
The committee was informed that there are around 4,500 stores covering only four percent of the population across the country.
Total sales at Utility Stores remained Rs114 billion with net profit of only Rs0.7 billion.
The USC will focus in 2021-22 on point of sale implementation for targeted subsidy, revamped policies and procedures in line with best practices, automation of supply chain, finance, HR and admin, shifting from small stores to large stores for better services to customers and centralisation to achieve better control on business decisions and cost.
It informed the committee that 90 stores were running in loss due to providing facilities to residents in far-flung areas that have no resort to the outside world. To control losses, the government plans to cross-subsidise goods.
The committee was informed that 50+ units were operating in the FATA and the PATA.
The committee, on request of the ministry, agreed to take up the issue after 90 days on completion of the computerisation and bar-coding exercise, crucial for the progress of the organisation.
Members, who attended were senators Falak Naz, Fida Muhammad, Faisal Saleem Rehman, Muhammad Abdul Qadir, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, Hidayat Ullah, and Imamuddin Shouqeen, besides senior government officers.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021