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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Thursday said that Rs2.5 billion relief package had been announced, which would be enhanced to Rs7 billion.

Besides, the prime minister has also approved Rs10 billion for smooth supply of essential items on subsidised rates through the Utility Stores Corporation.

Addressing joint press conference along with Managing Director Utility Stores Corporation Umar Lodhi, she said the present government would stand by the masses during this difficult juncture.

She said the government was taking maximum steps to control spread of the coronavirus in the country with the assistance of provincial governments and other stakeholders.

The SAPM said Cash Emergency Transfer Scheme of Ehsas programme, had been inaugurated by the prime minister, and Rs12,000 cash-grant was being provided to the 12 million deserving families across the country.

She said under the cash programme, Rs144 billion would be distributed among the deserving families, and added supply of essential commodities to the public would be ensured at the chain of the Utility Stores Corporation, which was playing an important role in this regard.

She said the government had extended the relief package at Utility Stores till Eidul Fitr.

She said earlier subsidy was being given on five items but now 19 items would be available at discounted prices.

She said that Rs2.5 billion package had been approved for Utility Stores, which could be enhanced to Rs7 billion as per requirement.

Dr Firdous said under the prime minister's relief package, Rs10 billion had been allocated for the USC to ensure availability of daily-use items at affordable prices.

The USC MD, Umer Lodhi, said the corporation was launching its well-equipped mobile van service on April 10 (Friday) in a bid to facilitate people with daily use commodities at their doorstep.

He said initially the service would be launched in federal capital and then it would expand the radius of its services to other cities of the country.

He said this service would help people get essential items of daily use on subsidised rates. Providing details about the relief package during lockdown due to the coronavirus and the upcoming month of Ramzan, the USC MD said the prime minister had announced special package to provide subsidy on five essential items, however, during Ramzan, the subsidy would be given on more items.

He said irrespective of hike in price of wheat flour or sugar in the open market, the Utility Stores would provide wheat flour at the rate of Rs800 per 20kg and sugar at Rs68 per kg. Further, he said ghee would be sold at Rs170 per kg, while a subsidy of Rs15 to 25 per kg would be provided on all pulses and gram flour (besan).

Likewise, a subsidy of Rs50 per kg would be given on tea and Rs30 per liter on milk, Rs25 per 1,500 ml bottle of beverages and Rs20 per 800 ml of beverages.

He said according to the PM package a subsidy of Rs2.5 billion would be provided during the holy month of Ramzan, however, in case of increased demand, the subsidy would also be increased during the month, so that the customers could get all the required items on subsidised rates.

He pointed out that there was no shortage of any item in the stores and they were fulfilling demand of the customers despite increase of sale by 5 to 10 times.

He said the sale of Utility Stores had increased from Rs350 million per month a year ago to Rs8 billion during last month.

He said during last three months total sale of the Utility Stores was recorded at Rs25 billion. He said sale target of the stores during the month of Ramzan was Rs30 billion.

He informed that at present 4,200 stores were operational, while by next 15 to 20 days 200 more stores would be added to the chain and after Ramzan 300 more stores would be opened in various parts of the country.

Replying to a question, Umer Lodhi said after outbreak of coronavirus in the country, people were getting panic and they were buying more than their actual needs.

Earlier, the requirement of wheat flour at the USC outlets was 2,000 tons, while now it had increased up to 7,000 to 8,000 tons of wheat flour.

However, he said this requirement was also being fulfilled.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020