PESHAWAR - Federal Minister for Industries and Production Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo has said that the federal government has been struggling hard to solve the problems facing traders and industrialists, and to improve the living standards of the masses. He was addressing members of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) here on Saturday. He was briefed about the problems facing the industrial sector of NWFP and the future development prospects of the sector. APP adds: He also agreed with a proposal of SCCI to declare NWFP as 'war affected zone' and announcement of a special package by the federal government for rehabilitation of the province. President SCCI, Sharafat Ali Mubarik, presented the proposal during the visit of the federal minister. Speaking after hearing the problems and suggestions for resolving them, Mian Manzoor Wattoo said the demand of SCCI is genuine because NWFP is a frontline province in international war against terror and has been badly affected in regard with its economy and law and order situation. He said the ongoing energy crisis has further deteriorated the state of economy in NWFP, which is also suffering for the last 30 years due to the influx of millions of Afghan refugees. Provincial Minister for Industry, Ahmad Hussain Shah, was also present on the occasion. The Federal Minister for Industry said that he would personally meet the President and Prime Minister and request them to declare NWFP as war affected province and announce a special package for its rehabilitation and revival of the provincial economy. Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo said that the present government is serious in resolving the problems of militancy and insurgency. In this regard, he added, for the first time a joint sitting of the Parliament was arranged wherein high- ranking officials of army answered to the questions of the parliamentarians. Presently, he said, a parliamentary committee has been constituted which is finding ways to resolve the problems and every decision in this regard would be taken with the consent of the Parliament. He admitted that government has not provided trickle-down benefit of reduction in prices of petroleum products to the masses. He said due to international economic recession, the government is also facing problems and wanted some backing to become stable. As the situation improves, government will ensure sale of petroleum products in the country at reduced rates, he added. He said govt is democratically elected and fully realizes the problems being faced by people of the country and making earnest efforts to improve the situation. He said the ongoing energy crisis and poor law and order situation, especially in NWFP, has seriously affected the economy of the country. However, he added, govt is taking measures to resolve these issues. He also informed the SCCI members that Federal Ministry of Industry and Production has started a process of consultation with all the chambers of the country. In the end of current month, he added a joint meeting of office-bearers of all the chambers and federations would be called in Islamabad where Federal Ministers for Commerce, Power, Finance and all the relevant officials would also be invited so that problems of businessmen could be discussed and solution could be fined out. In response to a complaint of flourmill owners, Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo apprised the SCCI members that due to increase in support price of wheat from Rs 600 to 950 per 40 kg about seven per cent more wheat has been sowed and this year bumper crop is expected in the country. He expressed the hope that this year country would be self-sufficient in wheat and there will no need of importing the commodity. In response to another point, the Federal Minister informed that Pakistan Steel Mill is importing iron ore to the tune of Rs 25 billion annually. The present government, he added, has decided to concentrate on NWFP and Baluchistan for obtaining the raw material for Pakistan Steel Mills. Earlier, leader of Businessmen Forum, Senator Ilyas Ahmad Bilour and leading businessmen of NWFP including, Sarwar Mohmand, Vice President of SCCI, Muhammad Ishaq, Sufi Bashir Ahmad, Nauman Wazir and other spoke on the occasion.