ISLAMABAD        -        National Assembly Standing Committee on Industries and Production Monday expressed grave concerns over shortage of wheat and flour in the country.

National Assembly Standing Committee on Industries and Production met under the chairmanship of Sajid Hussain Turi, MNA, and expressed its concern over the shortage of flour in the country.

Committee members criticized the government and accused it of creating artificial crisis of wheat and flour. The committee said people are struggling to search flour in different parts of the country.

The officials, however, informed the committee that government has already taken measures to control the situation by importing wheat and action against hoarders. Managing Director, Utility Stores Corporation informed the committee that 200,000 metric tons of wheat was provided to USC by the government for selling in the market, after grinding (flour), which was accordingly distributed to all outlets of USC.

He said that flour is available at USC outlets. He also briefed the committee about details of Rs 6 billion relief package announced by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The MD informed the committee that said amount has been released to Utility Stores Corporation.

The parliamentary committee also discussed the matter regarding “the reason for nonpayment of dues to the contractors who supply various goods to the Utility Stores”.

The MD responded by saying that USC has already released 50% payments of (pending liabilities) to the contractors but remaining amount will be released in next six months. He further informed that there were huge pending liabilities of Rs. 8.3 billions, which have now shrunk up to Rs. 3.9 billion.

The committee noted the issues being faced by the general public owing to substandard production of automobile vehicles. The members were of the opinion that manufacturer companies i.e. Toyota, Honda and Suzuki were not providing Air Bags and Anti-lock Breaking System (ABS) in automobile vehicles. The representatives from the said companies, however, submitted that they were providing such kind of accessories in their vehicles. The Committee unanimously decided that next meeting would be convened to discuss the taxation issues of automobile sector.

The Committee decided that Federal Board of Revenue, Commerce Ministry, Engineering Development Board, Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority would also be invited in the said meeting.

Chief Executive Officers (CEO), SMEDA, briefed the committee about the Economic Revitalization Program in FATA. He said that the basic focus of said program was on three agencies (North Waziristan, South Waziristan and Khyber) aiming to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities, leading to long term economic growth, mobilizing communities, entrepreneurs and local authorities to identify and invest in areas of high demand and potential to sustain return.

The project took three track approaches, CEO SMEDA said, which was focused on restarting livelihoods in the short term through public investment in FATA for medium-term growth. He further stated that it will establish a fund so as to grant investment capital for new and existing enterprises.

The committee expressed its concern over the monitoring and evaluation mechanism of SMEDA/Ministry of Industries and Production regarding disbursements of grants by SMEDA to different sectors for establishing of business. The committee recommended that SMEDA will provide details of its ongoing and new projects on quarterly basis to this committee.

The meeting was attended by MNAs Sahibzada Sibgatullah, Sajida Begum, Ms. Aliya Hamza Malik, Usama Qadri, Ali Gohar Khan, Mohammad Pervaiz Malik, Rana Muhammad Ishaq Khan, besides many senior officers belonging to Ministry of Industries & Production.