LAHORE - Legislators from two sides of the political divide exchanged harsh words during general discussion on price control at Punjab Assembly on Thursday.

Minister for Trade and Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal admitted considerable increase in prices of commoditieswhile opening debate in 45 minutes long speech that irritated his colleagues on the opposition benches. PML-N’s Khalil Tahir Sandhu stood up during the speech, saying it was unprecedented and wastage of time. The minister and the legislator exchanged heated arguments.

The session started one hour and 40 minutes behind the scheduled time with Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi in the chair. Mian Aslam Iqbal responded to the queries of legislators during question hour on Industries and Trade department. Parvez Elahi left the chair for Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari during the question hour. Member panel of chairman Mian Shafi assumed the chair in the middle of debate on price control.

Trade and industries minister admits considerable price hike

Opening debate, Mian Aslam Iqbal admitted hike in prices of commodities across the province, saying the government was aware about the situation and taking measures for giving relief to the masses. He said that damage to crops due to impact of climate change widened gap between demand and supply.

“Some areas received excessive rains and the other hardly any. This phenomenon and variation in temperature damaged many crops”, he said, adding, the government was taking measures for ensuring sale of commodities at government fixed prices. He said that price of flour in Punjab was lower than in the other federating units. “Price of 20kg flour bag in Punjab is Rs808. It is being sold in Sindh at Rs1150”, he said. Irked by lengthy speech, Khalil Tahir Sandhu said that usually minister took 15-20 minutes for initiating debate. Aslam said that he had given floor by the chair and would continue to present the real picture. Minister for Prosecution Ch Zaheerud Din stood up and said that intercepting a minister was not a good practice. If this happen, he said, no one from the opposition would be allowed to speak. PML-N’s Malik Muhammad Ahmed said that giving threats was not the right approach for a treasury. He said that it was right of the opposition to criticize and treasury usually listens patiently.

PML-N’s Sardar Owais Leghari said that no one could even imagine delivering such a long speech on any forum. “If he (Aslam) gives such a speech in his constituency, he will definitely get response in shape of tomatoes, onion and cabbage”, he said, adding, the people were not calling PTI as Pakistan Tomato Insaf.