PM seeks plan to set up farmers’ markets in Punjab, KP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked the governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to present an implementable plan, within 24 hours, to increase the number of farmers’ markets and to allow private sector to establish their own markets.

“The plan should also include rationalization of the regulatory regime with a shift towards compliance regime and doing away with the condition of obtaining No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the government for setting up a farmers’ market,” the PM said while chairing a meeting to review the progress on administrative measures to bring prices of essential commodities down.

The PM also tasked the provincial chief secretaries to present a comprehensive plan for rationalization of wheat grinding ratio, so that the production of flour could be enhanced while its prices are brought down.

Federal ministers, advisers to PM, provincial ministers and senior government officials were also present on the occasion, whereas provincial chief secretaries attended the meeting via video link.

The PM expressed serious concerns over the existing price differential at wholesale and retail level, varying even at district level. He observed that the existence of huge price difference at the two levels pointed towards weak implementation mechanism and inefficient regulatory mechanism.

Imran Khan noted that limited number of farmers’ markets in the major cities was one of the causes of exploitation of farmers, undue profits being made by the middlemen and resultant price-hike that adversely affected the poor.

He also took serious notice of the complaints of non-adherence to officially determined price list of essential commodities at retail level, and directed strict action against violators.

The chief secretaries briefed the meeting about action taken against various flour mills over violations, including less grinding of wheat, observed by the provincial governments. The PM also inquired from Sindh chief secretary about reports on the release of six-year old 32,000MT wheat, which was unsuitable for consumption.

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