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Pakistan has less poverty, prices of essentials in region: Fawad

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry Tuesday said that inflation in Pakistan is lower than other countries in the region and poverty rate in other countries is also higher than ours.

He also suggested to PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to next time hold demonstration in front of the Sindh Chief Minister’s House against price hike, as there was a big difference in rates of essential items in Punjab and Sindh.

He said that today (Wednesday) Prime Minister Imran Khan in his important address to the nation would announce a huge and historic relief package under which 53 percent of the population of the country would benefit.

Briefing the media persons after the meeting of federal cabinet, which was presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the minister said that in the briefing to the cabinet, the essentials were compared with regard to the previous weeks, “but now we have compared the countries in the region, which include India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and maybe from next week, Sri Lanka will also be included, with whom we compare the prices of our goods.”

He said that in the present situation, it was stated that basic commodities in Pakistan are still the cheapest in the region, among the countries which do not produce oil. However, he added that as oil prices go up, it remains to be seen how long we can sustain oil prices.

The minister explained that at present the price of flour in Pakistan is Rs60.9 per kg, in India and Bangladesh it is Rs83, and in Afghanistan it is Rs73.5; in Pakistan gram (dal) is Rs146.77, in India and Bangladesh Rs166 per kg. Dal mash in the country is available at Rs245.8, in India it is Rs244, in Bangladesh it is Rs334 and in Afghanistan it is Rs214 per kg.

The minister said that onion is costing Rs47.14 per kg in Pakistan, Rs95 in India and Rs121 in Bangladesh, chicken is Rs254.92 in Pakistan, Rs438 in India and Rs324 per kg in Bangladesh. Likewise, he noted that petrol is currently Rs138.73 in Pakistan, Rs258 in India and Rs180 per litre in Bangladesh. “At present, these are the countries in our region where, according to the World Bank, the poverty rate is higher than ours. And the prices of goods are also higher than ours,” he pointed out.

The minister said that at present, the problem was that there was a big difference in the prices of Punjab and Sindh. In Rawalpindi, 20 kg of flour was being sold at Rs1,100 while in Karachi, it was getting Rs1,470. Similarly, he added, sugar is priced at Rs90 in Punjab and Rs120 in Karachi, while mong dal is priced at Rs148 in Punjab and Rs196 in Karachi.

Fawad said that the main problem is that the Sindh government is not controlling the prices: The Sindh government did not buy wheat at first and then released it late, which is affecting our SPI. He said that the government of Sindh needs to reconsider its administrative matters, adding that the entire Karachi and other areas of Sindh are facing great difficulties due to them and they need to improve their administrative nature and form.

He reiterated that our permanent position on electoral reforms has been that unless the electoral system is made transparent, the objections to the elections in Pakistan could not be removed and that is all. “In this regard, we want to move forward on electoral reforms,” he said.

He said 30 bills, including that on electoral reforms, will be tabled in the joint session of the Parliament. Taking a dig at Shehbaz Sharif, he said the opposition leader is a conspirator, not political leader.

The minister said that the Ministry of Commerce and Information had given a briefing on the vacancies. He said that the federal cabinet has abolished the authority of the federal government to acquire land for setting up housing societies, now the federal government will not acquire land for forming housing societies.

He said that many people have got two plots under the prime minister’s package, but the prime minister had also terminated his discretionary power. Fawad said that during the Nawaz Sharif and PPP eras, the prime ministers used billions of rupees in the name of discretionary funds on the people, while Prime Minister Imran Khan did not use a single rupee from the discretionary fund.

The minister contended the federal government and its employees would be part of the Federal Government Housing Authority’s programme only for federal employees. He said that the cabinet has expressed concern over the manner in which the plots have been allotted to the institutions.

He said that a committee has been constituted comprising the Ministries of Establishment, Finance and Housing. He said plots are available under the Act, which is part of their jobs and benefits, but the bureaucracy does not have such a system and the government’s blue-eyed are allotted plots. Fawad explained that the committee would look into the matter and incorporate the policy of the defence and the allotment of housing would be looked into in a systematic manner.

He said that the cabinet has rejected the proposal of suspending the duty on luxury cars called vintage cars for one year so that people can import these cars. Fawad said that Brigadier (R) Shuja Hassan Khawarizmi has been re-appointed as CEO of Pakistan Steel Mills for one year.

Meanwhile, leaders of the allied parties of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) expressed full confidence in the leadership and policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan. A delegation of the coalition parties called on Prime Minister Imran Khan here. MNA Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and IT Minister Aminul Haq represented the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

MNA Ghous Bakhsh Mehr and IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza represented the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), whereas the PMLQ was represented by Housing Minister Ch Tariq Bashir Cheema and Water Resources Minister Monis Elahi. MNA Khalid Magsi, Defence Production Minister Zubeida Jalal and Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qaddos Bizenjo represented the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid represented the Awami Muslim League (AML). SAPM Shahzain Bugti represented the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP). The government was represented by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Planning Minister Asad Umar and SAPM Malik Muhammad Amir Dogar. During the meeting, issues related to the overall political and economic situation were discussed.


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