ISLAMABAD - The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday approved wheat support price at the rate of Rs 1650/40kg for coming Rabi crop.

Briefing the media persons about the decisions of the Federal Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said that the Cabinet thoroughly discussed the issue of wheat support price and input of Cabinet members most of whom were public representatives was taken.

He said that issue was being debated for quite some time and it was also taken up in the Economic Coordination Committee (ECCC) in its previous meeting.

He said that both consumers and the farmers would be happy with this price as its objective was to protect the masses from high prices of flour but at the same time give farmers good prices for their produce.

The Minister said that Punjab was the major producer of wheat whereas Sindh has 13 to 16 per cent share in wheat produce.

He said that the Sindh government was responsible for the crisis as it failed to release any wheat for the consumers.

He said its shortage in Sindh not only resulted in high prices in the province but also caused transfer of the commodity from Punjab to Sindh which affected the supply chain and also raised its price in Punjab and KPK.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had the desire that  prices of all edibles should not increase so that the commodity is available for the low income segments at affordable rates.

He said presently international prices of the wheat are on the higher side but the support price announced by the Sindh was even higher than the international price.

The Minister said that unfortunately during the past four to five decades the county was run on ad hoc basis and no long term policies were made for the country.

He said that the system of subsidies given by the government was faulty as both billionaires and the poor benefit from them equally.

Shibli Faraz said that the government would take help from Ehsaas Programme data for giving targeted subsidies.  

He said that the Special Assistant on Finance has been given the task to prepare a plan for rationalizing the subsidies worth Rs 4 trillion and ensuring that only the poor and middle income segments should benefit from them.

He said that while discussing the COVID-19 situation, the Cabinet after detailed discussion, reiterated that there would be no restrictions on those sectors which are linked with job opportunities and creation of wealth.

While replying to the questions of media persons, Senator Shibli Faraz appreciated the self-discipline and accountability mechanism of the Armed Forces in relation to the Karachi incident.

He said that military side has done its job and now the Sindh government should set an example with regards to how the police offices resorted to a sort of mutiny and fix the responsibility how it all happened.

It should also check  why the FIR was not registered initially by the concerned SHO, which led to a  resentment and reaction from public and pressure came on the Rangers and they approached high official of police to sort out this issue.

The Minister was of the opinion that the Sindh government should ensure that discipline is maintained by all and the IG  also conduct an inquiry regarding his officers.   

To a question  about a resolution in the Punjab Assembly on fixing wheat support price at Rs 2000 per 40 kg, the Minister said  that the provinces could express their desire but it was the job of the federal government to determine the support price keeping in mind interests of both  people and wheat growers.

The Minister expressed the hope that the new support price and Rs. 100 subsidy to the farmers would be beneficial to both the masses as well as the farmers.

Commenting about privatisation of PTV, the Minister said that privatisation of PTV is not yet finalised.

He said that we are waiting for inquiry report of Sindh Government about desecration of Quaid Mausoleum.

He said that Prime Minister and Cabinet made it clear not to increase price of flour as wheat is being sold on exhorbiant prices in Sindh.

Earlier, Special Assistant for Revenue Dr. Waqar Masood gave a detailed briefing to the Cabinet on rationalisation of subsidies and grants.

The Cabinet was presented with a comparative overview of revenues and expenditure, subsidies and grants for the last 13 years.

The Special Assistant to Prime Minister said that at present most of the sectors of the economy including energy, agriculture, industry and other sectors are being given subsidies and grants which is putting undue burden on the national exchequer.  At present, the total volume of subsidies and grants is 4.5 per cent of GDP.

The Special Assistant presented proposals to the Cabinet regarding targeted subsidies. It was suggested that the Ehsas database be used to provide targeted subsidies to the poor.

The Prime Minister said that the real beneficiaries of subsidies and grants are the poor. At present, the subsidy is equally available to both the rich and the poor.

Prime Minister directed that a mechanism of targeted subsidy should be devised which would benefit the poor and downtrodden areas in particular. It is a great achievement of the present government that the deposits of government institutions in the scheduled banks have been transferred to the State Bank, which has resulted in significant savings.

Prime Minister directed that a detailed review of all the sectors in which targeted subsidy could be given to the poor and backward areas and a comprehensive plan with a period of implementation be presented.

Cabinet approved Trade Development Authority of Pakistan to be given the status of Registrant under Geographical Indication Registration.

This approval has been given to give a distinct identity to Pakistan’s products and products in the world.

The Cabinet endorsed the decisions taken at the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee held on October 28 2020.

The Cabinet ratified the decisions taken at the meeting of the Committee on Energy dated October 29, 2020.

The Cabinet approved in principle the establishment of the Digital Cooperation Organisation proposed by the Saudi Arabian government.

The establishment of this institute will help in the development of the Information Technology sector among the countries of the region.

Federal Minister Asad Omar briefed the Cabinet on the current situation regarding the corona epidemic.

The Cabinet was informed that the rate of increase in the spread of corona epidemic is increasing, which is alarming.

Prime Minister appealed to the nation to take precautionary measures against Covid-19 and ensure use of a mask.

He directed the NCOC to formulate a strategy to deal with this situation without affecting employment opportunities.

On this occasion, the Cabinet decided in principle that no public meeting would be held by the government during this period.