PM desires constitution of a committee to control prices of daily commodities.

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ISLAMABAD, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Monday directed for immediate constitution of a committee to check the prices of daily commodities and edibles.

He also directed for strict action against the unnecessary price hike and illegal profiteering and said that no leniency would be tolerated in this regard.

The prime minister chaired the maiden meeting of the newly elected cabinet, PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

The cabinet, on the recommendation of the ministry of trade, approved imposition of a ban on the export of bananas and onion till April 15. The ban was made effective to ensure ample availability of these items in the market during the holy month of Ramazan.

The federal cabinet, on the recommendation of ministry of interior, sanctioned an application of a citizen of Netherlands Muhammad Aurangzeb for again seeking the Pakistani citizenship.

The meeting also approved appointment of Major General Abdul Moeed HI (M) as Director General Anti Narcotics Force on the recommendation of relevant ministry.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif regretted that elite classes in the country had monopoly over the 90 percent resources of the country and stressed that they did not deserve any subsidies.

The prime minister underscored that they required to control the issue of tax evasion and power and gas thefts to ensure availability of maximum resources for the development of the country.

He further said that the government was ensuring all out efforts for the availability of daily commodities during the holy month of Ramazan at affordable prices and declared that no leniency in this regard would be tolerated.

Addressing the first meeting of the federal cabinet, the prime minister said that Allah Almighty had bestowed upon them the responsibility to serve the nation and reiterated to meet their expectations by striving day and night.

Highlighting the huge economic challenges, he said that the masses had given them the responsibility to address these serious issues and they were equally answerable to the people who had given them a mandate to form the government.

He urged the members of the cabinet to serve the nation and country with new fervor and commitment so that in the history, they could be remembered for delivering on their promises.

After February 8 general elections, the political parties received a split mandate, the PML-N, PPP and the allied parties were given the mandate to form the government.

Now, this mandate should be respected which also required that they should concentrate their energies and move on the path of progress rapidly, he added.

The prime minister said that during their previous 16-month government, the people had witnessed their performance, adding that they saved the country from running into default.

The prime minister said when they assumed the reigns of the previous government, they had two choices; either to sit as silent spectators or be counted, at that time they had decided to take responsibility of the country.

Then the interim government followed them but the economic situation in the country was stable and did not worsen, he opined.

The prime minister said that once more, they took the responsibility of steering the country out of the huge challenges and without wasting time, they should tread upon that path leading to destination.

Felicitating the nation on the arrival of Ramazan, he said that about Rs12 billion Ramazan Package was being initiated under which the edible items at the Utility Stores and mobile utility stores would be provided to the poor and deserving.

Besides, under Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) millions of rupees were being distributed among the poor as additional cash amount.

He underlined the need of strict monitoring of the distribution of different items under Ramazan package so that the food stuff should be readily available to the deserving.

Mentioning the spiraling price hike as one of the major challenge, he stressed that the federal government, in collaboration with the provinces, would take measures to reduce it especially in the holy month of Ramazan.

“I will not tolerate any kind of disturbance in the prices of commodities in the federal territory,” he emphasized and assured support and assistance to the provinces.

He said that they would make all out efforts to provide relief to the commoners.

“On one hand, the common man is being crushed under burden of price hike, but on the other, the rich had control over 90 per cent of country’s resources,” he observed and called upon the well to do to play their due role for the national

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also regretted that about Rs500 billion power theft was being reported annually and questioned the subsidy provided to the elite classes, terming it the biggest contradiction.

He further mentioned that the combined circular debt of power and gas sector had spiraled to 5000 billion rupees now.

The prime minister also referred to high costs of power due to functioning of the ‘junk plants’ running on diesel and incurring billion of losses.

He maintained that different mafias involved in this cycle should be dealt with by reforms and improvement in the earliest.

“The fatal cancer has hollowed the nation,” he said, adding that alone PIA, the national flag carrier, had ballooning debt and liabilities of about Rs 840 billion, whereas other state owned enterprises were also incurring billions of rupees losses annually.

He said that they were taking loans to pay salaries to the employees of these state entities.

The prime minister also underscored the need of enhancement of tax net without burdening the honest tax payers, besides stressing that loopholes which led to tax evasion of billion of rupees should be plugged.

Expressing his anguish, he said that the contradiction in the tax system could be gauged form the fact that retailers were being taxed sparing the wholesalers.

He said that he was forced to say ‘now do or die, now or never’,

They had taken the responsibility which did not revolve around mere distribution of ministries, but ‘a journey full of blood sweat and sacrifice and nothing else’.

He observed that those nations had reached to the destination that had the passion for sacrifice, adding that they should not fight among themselves, but rather direct their struggle against corruption, poverty and deprivation.

“The whole nation is facing the challenges, and they are accountable to them. They should not dither or delay and I will not tolerate one second wastage of time,” he added.

The prime minister also expressed the hope that the new cabinet members would meet the challenges as it was a perfect combination of youth and experience, which could serve as engine to take the nation forward.

He also mentioned the climate change as another vital challenge which had caused devastation in the past.

The prime minister said that government functionaries performing well would be appreciated and encouraged but the black sheep would be exposed.

He further said that the youth bulge of the country was a huge asset which required to be converted into great opportunity, adding that they would formulate a complete economic plan in this regard.

The prime minister also termed the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), as an effective mechanism in improving the investment environment in the country, and cutting the red tape and serious delays.

The prime minister said that Pakistan would seek foreign investment instead loans and highlighted various steps in this regard