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ISLAMABAD: After Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) designated Pakistan as a very high concern area in food insecurity, the government on Wednesday said there is no truth in the reports as the country recorded 28.5 million metric ton wheat production this year along with the carry-over stock of the previous year.

Responding to a calling attention notice regarding FAO and WFP reports that had warned of acute food insecurity in Pakistan in coming months if the economic and political crisis further worsens, the minister for food security Tariq Bashir Cheema said that the reports were not based on truth.

“I completely disagree with what’s been said in the reports (WFO and FAO) and facts indicated in the reports have no reality and there is no need to be worried about anything,” he added.

He said that the procurement of wheat would be completed in the next 15-20 days and the country would have sufficient quantity of wheat, adding the country would not be in need of any wheat import.

He said that during the current season, the production of potatoes stood at 7.9 million tons, adding the production of maize has also improved while cultivation of rice crop continues.

He said that the government is planning to increase the annual edible oil production over the next 10 years in an effort to take the country towards self-sufficiency in food commodities, especially in edible oil.

Responding to a question, Minister of State for Law Shahadat Awan said the government is taking measures to make the women bazaar in G-10 sector Islamabad functional.

He said that the women bazaar was established in G-10 without considering technical problems, adding the bazaar comes under the right of way of the 11th avenue that is why it was not made functional.

He said the sewage treatment plant in Sector I-9/1 has a total capacity of 17 million gallons per day, adding the plant is purely designed to treat domestic sewage.

“At present, the plant is receiving three to four million gallons of domestic raw sewage … around 20 percent of the treated water is being used for green belts, nurseries and plants,” he added.

To a query, Awan said that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has provided two cremation grounds for Hindu and Buddhist communities in Sector H-9, Islamabad.

He further said that over 14 acres of land has been allotted to the graveyards for Christians and Qadiyanis in sectors H-8 and H-9.

The house passed the Pakistan Ruet-e-Hilal Bill, 2022. The bill is aimed at regulating the system of moon sighting for the commencement of Islamic Hijri Calendar months and consequently bringing harmony among followers of various schools of thought of Islam to perform their religious obligations with unanimity throughout the country.

The bill was moved by Minister of State for Law Shahadat Awan.

A report of the parliamentary committee examining the amendments proposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan in the Election Act, 2017 was also presented in the House.

On behalf of Chairman Standing Committee on Energy (Petroleum Division), MNA Saira Bano presented a report on the Gas (Theft Control and Recovery) (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali spoke on a point of order regarding meeting of sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqui with her after almost 20 years.

He demanded the government to ensure all possible efforts for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

Meanwhile, speaking on points of order, the lawmakers in National Assembly, demanded to propose increased taxes on tobacco products and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in the upcoming budget and initiate an effective public awareness campaign to shun its use among the masses wasting both health and money.

Dr Nisar Ahmad Cheema of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that the country like the rest of the world was celebrating World No Tobacco Day under the theme “We need food, not tobacco”.

Cheema regretted that the tobacco mafia was strong, wealthy and influential enough and running effective campaigns to mislead the public.

Ramesh Kumar said that last year, World No Tobacco Day was celebrated amid budget and he had proposed the government to increase taxes on tobacco products, and intoxicants to make them unaffordable to youth and masses of other age groups to reduce its use.

He added that one way was to increase taxes on tobacco, disallow under 18 youth smoking at public places and detain them if found violating so that it could bring a sense of fear among the people.

Shakila Luqman said that every government used to make efforts to give relief to the masses in the budget but Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif distributed free flour in Ramzan despite the economic crisis.

She added that the cheap Russian oil being imported would also benefit the masses, whereas, the government had made all-out efforts and implemented all conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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