A federal cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Tuesday approved a subsidy of Rs2 billion per month for a period of five months to Utility Stores Corporation for the provision of edible items of daily use to the people at affordable rates.
Briefing the media of the decisions, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said the Rs10 billion package would help ensure availability of flour, sugar, rice and pulses among other edible items at USC outlets at reasonable rates.
The USC has been further directed that 20 kg flour bag should be sold at Rs800 while pulses at a rate 15 to 20 per cent lower than the market.
The government, the SAPM said, is also devising a long term strategy to keep a check on prices of essential edible items. She said the government’s economic team, the ministry of commerce and other institutions including the Utility Stores Corporation gave a detailed briefing to the prime minister in the meeting.
The cabinet also gave approval to lift a ban on import of sugar to ensure supply of this commodity, said the SAPM, adding that the export of sugar has been banned and a strategy is being devised to remove regulatory duty on it.
Firdous said 4.3 million women are being given Rs2,000 monthly under Ehsaas programme. The number will rise to 70 million by the end of year, benefitting 46.9 people, she added.
“Utility stores have been directed to sell a 20-kilogramme bag of wheat at Rs800, sugar at Rs70 per kg, ghee at Rs175 per kg while rice and pulses will be sold at 20 per cent reduced price,” said Awan.
Awan also announced that the Utility Stores Corporation will issue ration cards before the holy month of Ramazan which would provide a discount of 25-30 per cent on essential items to deserving people.
The SAPM said that the government will open 2,000 “youth stores” in collaboration with USC. The stores will be part of the Kamyab Jawan Programme, she said, adding that the initiative will create jobs and ensure the provision of commodities at cheap prices. The Kamyab Jawan Programme will provide interest-free loans for the project.
USC will also open 12 cash-and-carry stores in major cities of the country to “stabilise prices”.
The global health emergency caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, also came under discussion during the meeting. The cabinet was briefed on the measures being taken by the health ministry to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus as well as the situation of the Pakistani students currently trapped in Wuhan.