LAHORE - Legislators from across the political divide on Thursday criticised the incumbent government for hike in prices of essential commodities.

Higher Education Minister Yasir Humayun informed the house that the cabinet would decide distribution of laptops among college students after settlement of the issue pending with National Accountability Bureau.

The Punjab Assembly session started two hours and 15 minutes behind the scheduled time with Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi in the chair.

During debate on price-hike, treasury legislator Shahida Karim admitted that bad governance was one of the reasons behind inflation. She claimed that shopkeepers were purchasing sugar at a rate of Rs68 per kg and selling the same at Rs100/kg. Seeking strict accountability of hoarders and mafias, she said the government should frame long term policies and also suggested forming a parliamentary committee for controlling price-hike.

PML-N’s Muhammad Ahmed Khan regretted that various eatables were getting costlier even during their season, when traditionally prices are at their lowest. He said 70 million out of 120 million population of Punjab belong to the working class and they are the worst hit by the bad governance and price-hike.

He warned that the price-hike would be at its peak during the last quarter of the ongoing calendar year.

PPP parliamentary leader Hassan Murtaza lamented at the lack of policy about price control committees and alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan bowed to the same mafias the latter had been talking of bringing to task. He alleged that oil prices were increased at the behest of the petroleum mafia, while “sugar mafia baron” was allowed to slip out of the country. During question hour, Higher Education Minister Yassir Humayun expressed inability to distribute laptops left undistributed by the Shahbaz government because the matter was with NAB. He said the cabinet would soon decide on giving away these machines to deserving collegiates instead of school students.

Responding to the issue raised by PML-N’s Samiullah Khan on a point of order, Law Minister Raja Basharat said he was unaware of the forced and without prior notice entry of Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment’s around one dozen officials into the house of MPA Imran Khalid in Gujranwala.

Assuring the chair of inquiry into the incident, he suggested the victim to submit a privilege motion to see in detail the issue at the committee level.

Earlier, Samiullah Khan said that the opposition was already complaining of political engineering through NAB and now a new agency is surfacing allegedly with the same objective. He said the ACE violated sanctity of the four-walls and warned that if the activities were not stopped forthwith, they would be forced to wage a full-throttled protest.