Following the Prime Minister’s directives to ensure the availability of essential commodities at fixed rates, the Punjab government has intensified a crackdown on profiteers, arresting 29 persons and registering 32 cases against the violators during the current month.
The authorities also imposed fines of about Rs9.2 million on shopkeepers for overcharging consumers.
These details emerged during a briefing at a meeting presided over by Provincial Minister for Agriculture Hussain Jahanian Gardezi at the Chief Secretary’s Office in Punjab Civil Secretariat on Friday.
The Chief Secretary Punjab, secretary industries, CEO Urban Unit, Commissioner Lahore Division, deputy commissioner Lahore, director food and cane commissioner Punjab attended the meeting whereas all divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners joined through video conferencing.
The meeting reviewed prices and availability of eatables, especially flour and sugar, and decided to increase the number of price control magistrates to step up action against profiteers ahead of Ramzan.
Speaking at the meeting, Hussain Jahanian Gardezi said that providing relief to the common man is the priority of the government.
He directed the officers to closely monitor the prices, demand, and supply of vegetables and other commodities before the month of Ramzan, saying that the Agriculture Department should play an active role in this regard.
He opined that regulating the supply chain is instrumental in controlling prices.
The Chief Secretary said that as per the directions of the Prime Minister and Chief Minister Punjab, hoarders and profiteers would be dealt with iron hands.
He asked the officers to expedite the crackdown on profiteers and hoarders before the start of the holy month of Ramzan.
Remarking that inflation affects the common man more adversely, the Chief Secretary stressed the need to develop a sustainable system for a permanent solution to the problem of price-hike.
He said that the Punjab government has initiated reforms under the PAMRA Act to modernize the system of agricultural markets and to control the prices of commodities effectively.
Under the new rules, farmers and the private sector would be encouraged to establish markets, he mentioned, directing the deputy commissioners to provide all necessary facilities to the farmers for setting up farmers’ markets in cities.
He said that eliminating the role of the middleman would help bring down prices of commodities.