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KARACHI: In order to extend relief to the poor during Ramazan, the Sindh government has decided to provide a grant of Rs2,000 each to 7.8 million families for buying flour at subsidised rates.

The relief will be extended to families having a monthly income of Rs50,000 or less. Under the initiative, Rs2,000 per family will be provided for one month.

The announcement about the initiative was made by Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon during a press conference where he explained the various decisions taken by the provincial cabinet.

The minister said that the relief would be extended to the beneficiaries through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and the Habib Bank. Citizens may verify their eligibility by sending their National Identity Card numbers to 8171. If someone thinks they are eligible but their name is not included in the relevant data, they should visit the nearest BISP centre to get themselves registered. Their name will be included in the data within 24 hours.

Sharjeel Memon said that there are 7.8 million families in the data of BISP having a monthly income of Rs50,000 or less. However, if the total number of beneficiaries rises to 10 million, the Sindh government will be committed to provide relief to all of them.

The minister said that a subsidy of Rs15.5 billion will be given for the initiative. He said that the Sindh cabinet has also decided to enforce an ordinance to discourage hoarding and profiteering, whose draft will be sent soon to the governor of Sindh.

Under the ordinance, powers of magistrates are being assigned to food department officers and other relevant officials, he said. The ordinance mentions the powers of arrest, confiscation of goods as well as auctioning of the confiscated goods.

Earlier, only the assistant commissioners had such powers. The Sindh government has also issued a notification to confer the powers to the officers of Bureau of Supply and Prices.

He said that the amount of fine for profiteering and selling goods at rates above the official ones is being enhanced. The minister warned that the shops selling goods at rates higher than the official ones will be sealed and a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh imposed on them.

Profiteers easily pay a fine of say Rs10,000 because they earn far more. He clarified that in case profiteering is proved the authorities will not just impose a fine but will also confiscate goods that will be auctioned.

The cabinet has also decided to set up ‘bachat bazaars’ at the tehsil level throughout Sindh, he said. The arrangements for such bazaar will be made by the district administrations.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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