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ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel Tuesday directed the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) to ensure the availability of essential kitchen items to the masses, especially during the upcoming Ramazan.

The meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production which was held here under the chairmanship of Senator Khalida Ateeb while receiving a briefing by the Secretary Ministry of Industries and Production and Managing Director (MD) USC about the measures taken by USC in ensuring the availability of basic necessities to general masses, was informed that the government was providing Rs1.6 billion subsidy every month in this connection.

Muhammad Ali Amir, MD Utility Stores Corporation said that of Rs1.6 billion major chunk is being spent on the availability of wheat flour to the masses, adding that at present, a subsidy of around Rs62 per kg on wheat flour bag is being provided.

The MD USC further apprised the panel that USC has a stock of around 1,921.50 tons of wheat flour, 10,312.69 tons of sugar, 1,389.94 tons of ghee, 511.68 tons of Dal Channa, 304.06 tons of Dal Masoor, 391.96 tons white gram, 1,174.46 tons of Basmati rice, 611.42 tons of sella rice, 1,018.59 tons of broken rice in nine zones spread across the country.

USC launches subsidy under PM’s Relief Package

Responding to Senator Zeeshan Khanzada’s inquiry about what criteria USC was implying to provide subsidy to the general public, the MD USC stated that the government is providing targeted subsidy which includes individuals having monthly income below Rs29,000 and registered with Benazir Income Support Program (BISP).

Senator Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee questioned as to what measures have been taken to curb the malpractices being committed at the USC. Muhammad Ali Amir replied that USC was manually running its operations for the last 50 years and as of now, a real-time inventory project has been initiated and it aimed to digitalize the whole system and proved an effective tool against malpractices.

Moreover, the committee was apprised of the special measures taken by the government of Pakistan for Ramazan to provide basic necessities to the public at large. Muhammad Ali Amir, MD USC, informed that Rs5 billion subsidy has been fixed on 19 basic items for targeted and general public.

Senator Khalida Ateeb asked as to how the USC will determine the deserving and non-deserving individuals. The MD USC stated that the individuals registered with the BISP are declared as targeted or deserving individuals. The chairman committee recommended incorporating more families under the umbrella of the BISP.

Furthermore, as to budgetary proposals relating to Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) for the financial year 2023-24 of the Ministry of Industries and Production. Momin Agha, Additional Secretary Incharge for the Ministry of Industries and Production, informed the committee that a total of 21 projects have been enlisted for the financial year 2023-24, which includes 17 ongoing and four new projects with a total cost of Rs19.013 billion.

Senator Khalida Ateeb remarked that projects which aim to boost the economy and enhance exports should be encouraged in the present economic scenario.

The meeting was attended by senators, Faisal Saleem Rehman, Mohammad Abdul Qadir, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee, Hidayatullah, Haji Hidayatullah Khan, Attaur Rehman, and Zeeshan Khanzada. Additional Secretary Incharge for Ministry of Industries and Production Momin Agha, Managing Director Utility Stores Corporation Muhammad Ali Amir, and other senior officers of the relevant departments were also in attendance.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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