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No shortage of food commodities in country: Hammad Azhar

No shortage of food commodities in country: Hammad Azhar

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Hammad Azhar on Tuesday dispelled the impression that the country is facing flour crisis and warned that those involved in hoarding will be dealt with iron hands.

Addressing a press conference along with Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar and Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza, he said that there was no shortage of food commodities in the country, adding the economic relief package announced by the government would help ensure maintaining buying power of the low income people.

The minister advised the people not to engage in panic-buying as there was no shortage of essential items, adding that the federal government, in consultations with all the provinces, had made comprehensive arrangements to ensure sufficient production and supply of all essential items by keeping the relevant industries open and operational.

He said since the country was in lock-down, so there was a dire need to ensure production and supply of daily use essential items across the country to facilitate people.

“We have been engaged in meetings for the last four days with chief secretaries and officials of all four provinces, Gilgit Baltistan; Azad Kashmir and Islamabad through video conference and we have made certain decisions with mutual consultations,” the minister said.

He said the list of necessary manufacturers, industry, retailers and services had been prepared in consultations with the provinces, adding, however the provincial governments had the right to increase or decrease the list according to their requirements.

He said all the provinces and federation were on same page in determining the essential industries needed to be kept in operation in this lockdown situation, adding the industries that were providing raw materials and inputs to these industries would also be kept open.

In addition, he said the government would also ensure transportation of labour forces to these industries.

Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar underlined the need of united national response to meet the challenge of Coronavirus pandemic, adding that the first meeting of National Command Center was held today to discuss national response against Coronavirus pandemic.

The minister said Rs50 billion are being allocated for Utility Stores Cooperation to ensure provision of all food items to general public across the country.

Talking about post Corona situation, Asad Umar said the government decided to enhance number of Corona Testing Laboratories to 32 across Pakistan, which will have capacity of conducting nine hundred thousand tests till April 15.

He said the government will provide Corona testing kits to various hospitals engaged in treating Corona-hit patients.

Asad Umar also ensured provision of personal protective equipment to all medical staff working in various hospitals.

He urged opposition to set aside their personal differences and demonstrate unity in common fight against the pandemic.

In his concluding remarks, Dr Zafar Mirza warned that the government will take strict action against those involved in misbehaving and maltreating Coronavirus patients.