LAHORE - Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has directed to initiate indiscriminate crackdown on profiteers.

In a statement issued here on Wednesday, the chief minister reiterated that such elements deserved no leniency. He added that jail was the best place for such elements and no relaxation will be given to them.

The chief minister also directed the provincial price control taskforce to initiate legal action against the illegal profiteers involved in looting the people. Permission of such a dacoity could not be granted and artificial increase in the prices of vegetables, fruits and pulses will never be tolerated, he warned.

He directed the the deputy commissioners to personally monitor the steps taken for price control in their respective districts and rates and check the quality of essential items regularly. Similarly, district price control committees should make concerted efforts for stabilizing the prices of essential items, he said, adding that sale of different items should be ensured according to their rate list and negligence will not be tolerated in this regard.

Separately, CM  Buzdar taken notice of closure of sugarcane crushing by sugar mills. He sought a report from the food secretary and cane commissioner and directed that sugar mills should be bound to immediately resume crushing. “Closure of crushing season has no justification,” he added. He said the government will protect farmers’ rights at all costs and no one will be allowed to crush farmers’ rights. “Farmers are my brethers and protection of their rights is my responsibility,” the chief minister concluded.

On the directions of Punjab Chief Secretary Azam Suleman Khan, a new price control mechanism has been evolved to effectively monitor prices and demand and supply of essential commodities in the province.

Several recommendations including establishment of model bazaars at tehsil level, creation of database of all stocks, and installation of cameras in every fruit and vegetable market were presented during a meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary on Wednesday.

The Chief Secretary said that administrative officers would have to work diligently and more actively to provide relief to people in real sense. He mentioned that profiteers, hoarders, and adulterators would be dealt with iron hands.

He also issued directions to deputy commissioners to conduct surprise visits of fruit and vegetable markets and depute an officer not less than grade 17 as their representative to completely monitor auction process in these markets.

He asked the officers to ensure display of rate lists at all shops and start an awareness campaign to sensitize people about complaint system in case of profiteering or any other violation.  

Secretary Industries informed the meeting that a crackdown on profiteers had been expedited in the province and at least 3,670 persons were arrested while cases registered against 3,957 persons.

He said that 74 farmers markets had been set up across the province where farmers can directly sell their produce without intervention of middlemen.