LAHORE             –                   Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on Tuesday elevated Provincial Minister Aleem Khan to the status of Senior Minister and also assigned him the portfolio of Food department.

Aleem Khan was inducted in the provincial cabinet the other day for the second time after over a year.  Sources said that Aleem Khan would also get the portfolios of local government and P&D in a month or two. Arrangements are also being made to allocate him an office at 90-Shahra-e-Quaid-e-Azam, said the sources. Meanwhile, Aleem Khan chaired first meeting of food department on Tuesday. He directed the officers that the target of 45 lakh tonnes of wheat procurement in the province should be met in any case. Senior Minister further directed that there should be no restriction on the inter-district transport of wheat while the smuggling of wheat and the exit from the province should be stopped at all costs by sealing all the borders of Punjab.

Abdul Aleem Khan said that the increase in wheat procurement target might be increased in the coming days. He further said that the process of releasing wheat stocks should also be initiated so that there was no complaint of any shortage of flour in the market. Aleem Khan said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar had great expectations from Food Department which would be fulfilled.

He warned that in the current international and domestic conditions, food could become a global problem in the coming days. Senior Minister said that other provinces were also dependent on Punjab for wheat. He added that integrated policy on this issue should also be made and if necessary the legislation would be tabled in Punjab Assembly.

The Minister said that if there was a discrepancy between the government and market rates for the sale of wheat it should be minimized so as to discourage hoarders and profiteers.

During the meeting, Secretary Food Waqas Ali Mehmood informed the Senior Minister that “Bardana” had been issued without any discrimination and wheat procurement had already been started in Punjab, especially in Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan. The meeting was informed that 45 lakh tonnes of wheat would be procured under open policy while Deputy Commissioners in each district were following the directives of the government to achieve the target of wheat procurement.