LAHORE - Punjab cabinet which met here on Thursday under the chair of Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar decided to impose public health emergency in the province in the wake of coronavirus threats.

It also gave approval to wheat procurement campaign for the year 2020-21 setting a wheat procurement target of 4.5 million metric tons. The meeting also fixed wheat support price at Rs 1400 per 40 kg.  The flour mills were allowed to purchase wheat but there will be a ban on wheat trading for them.

The meeting also decided to do away with the restriction of ‘gardawari’ and the farmers will be given gunny bags on ‘first come, first served’ basis. It was further decided to start wheat procurement campaign in southern Punjab districts at the end of this month.

While addressing the meeting, the chief minister said that provincial ministers will monitor the wheat procurement campaign while the district administration will ensure achieving the wheat procurement target.

The cabinet committee will also review the procurement campaign and it would be revised if needed. The chief minister vowed to protect the rights of wheat growers adding that gunny bags distribution would be very transparent and judicious.

Screening of 3,000 Chinese is completed in Punjab

The payment to the farmers will be ensured at a fixed price, he added. All facilities would also be provided at the wheat procurement centres.

The cabinet also approved to impose public health emergency in the wake of coronavirus and further decided to take every possible measure. Usman Buzdar reiterated to take necessary steps adding that committees should submit their recommendations and Punjab government will take every possible step in this regard. The Health Department will be provided necessary resources to purchase necessary medical equipment, he stated.  The meeting decided to launch a public awareness campaign about coronavirus and the chief minister emphasized that the Punjab government took lead in taking steps to deal with coronavirus.

The meeting was told that out of 71 suspected coronavirus patients, the tests of 66 patients were negative while the result of five other patients is awaited yet. Out of 20 confirmed coronavirus patients, 14 belong to Sindh, five to Gilgit-Baltistan and one from Balochistan.

Similarly, screening of three thousand Chinese is completed in Punjab and screening of around four thousand pilgrims coming from Iran is also conducted. Along with it, quarantine facility is set up for 800 patients in DG Khan and high dependency unit and isolation wards have been established in DHQ hospitals. Health Secretaries conducted the briefings about the coronavirus related situation. Provincial Ministers, Advisors, Special Assistants, Chief Secretary and concerned secretaries attended the meeting.

The meeting approved G2G arrangements with National Radio Communication Corporation for the supply of vehicles and retro-reflective number plats, and further decided to create a separate Tourism Department by bifurcating it from Youth Affairs & Sports Department.

The cabinet also approved amendment in Stamp Act 1899 (Act II of 1899), Punjab Police (Special Branch) Intelligence Cadre Service Rules 2012 and schedule of Sub Inspectors and Inspectors (Appointment & Conditions of Service) Rules 2013. Amendment in rules for the supply of water to power plants by Irrigation Department was also approved along with the endorsement of minutes of 25th and 26th cabinet meetings.

Similarly, endorsement of decisions made in 25th and 26th Cabinet Standing Committee for Finance & Development and 21st meeting of Cabinet Standing Committee for Legislative Business was also given.  The meeting expressed a deep sense of sorrow over the crash of PAF plane in Islamabad and offered prayers for Wing Commander Nauman Akram. It also thanked the Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for working day and night for the establishment of Southern Punjab Secretariat.