islamabad-The government has directed Utility Stores Corporation (USC) to open 1000 more stores across the country to provide commodities of basic needs to the people at low prices.

Khaqan Murtaza, Managing Director USC said that the USC has Asia’s largest retail network in a single country with 6145 outlets across the country in which over 16000 employees are working which is selling its commodities at very cheap prices. He said that the USC has a plan to open at least one store in a Union Council depending upon the availability of banking facility. He said zero tolerance on corruption in Utility Stores outlets across the country would be observed. “During my tenure as MD USC, I have taken action against 1500 USC employees involved in various corrupt activities”, he said in an interview with APP.

He claimed that the quality of grains, rice and spices with reasonable rates at USC outlets is now far better than those available in the open market. He said now there is no chance of corruption in term of quality of the commodities as the USC has hired country’s big brands for packing of grains, rice and spices and these brands would be held responsible if any bad quality found in the commodities. Khaqan Murtaza said that he had strictly directed the concerned section to maintain quality of different commodities according to ISO certification.

Rejecting the perception regarding bad quality of Utility oil and ghee, the MD USC said that these commodities are being sold at very reasonable price as compared to the open market and these are prepared strictly following the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards.  To a question about recent hike in different commodities’ prices including wheat flour and sugar, he said that the USC was selling super fine wheat flour which is being sold at Rs 820 per 20 kg bag at USC outlets whereas the same was being sold at Rs 880 per bag. “We are selling commodities with a reasonable difference as compared to the open market so that the poor segment of the country could afford their living”, he added. However, he said that it becomes very difficult for the Corporation to keep the prices constant as it has not additional fundings from any source and it was giving subsidy to the people from its own resources.  Regarding sugar price, he said that it was decided by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) that the government would provide a subsidy of Rs 5 per kg of sugar and the recent increase in its price was due to increase in the open market.

The MD USC claimed that if a family shops at a Utility Store worth of about Rs 6000, it can save about Rs 1000 when it shops at other store.