Tuesday, March 14, 2023
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: As Ramadan is approaching and the soaring inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the lower and middle-class people, Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif has decided to provide free flour and subsidised petrol to one million residents of Islamabad during Ramadan, The News reported on Tuesday.
While presiding over a meeting in the federal capital to discuss the deliberation to assuage the inflationary impacts on the lower and middle classes, PM Shehbaz said that the government is taking measures to reduce the difficulties of the poor segments of society.
In the meeting, PM Shehbaz also invited the provincial governments of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan to participate in this scheme and instructed the concerned authorities to utilise modern technology to ensure transparency in the free distribution of wheat flour.
The meeting was informed that as per the premier's directives, a programme for the supply of free wheat flour in the outskirts of Islamabad during Ramadan was in the final stage that would benefit around 150,000 households.
The premier also, in principle, decided to provide petrol for the motorcycle and rickshaw owners at reduced rates as a programme for their relief had been designed. Different proposals were presented for the provision of low-cost petrol to motorcycles and rickshaw drivers.
PM Shehbaz also directed the relevant officers to finalise and submit the programme, as the government would take all possible steps to protect the low and middle-income groups against inflation.
Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Adviser to the Prime Minister Ahad Cheema, State Minister for Petroleum Dr Musaddik Malik and senior officers attended the meeting.
In a related development, the Punjab caretaker cabinet with the cooperation of the federal government also announced the country's largest and unique Ramadan relief package.
Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi chaired the 10th meeting of the provincial cabinet at his office and made a historic decision to provide free wheat flour to the public during the holy month.
Under this special package, the cabinet approved a program to provide free wheat flour bags to families earning less than Rs60,000. The families with identity cards will receive three bags of 10kg flour for free during the month of Ramadan.
Approximately, 1.58 crore families and 10 crore individuals will benefit from the package. Almost 90% of the population in Punjab will benefit from the free wheat flour package, which will be available at specific grocery stores, trucking points, and utility stores.
The distribution of free wheat flour will begin on the 25th of Sha'ban and continue until the 25th of Ramadan, the cabinet decided.
The chief minister directed that the number of stores and trucking points should be increased across the province and further ordered the large stores to set up special counters for this purpose.
The provincial cabinet meeting was also informed that the Punjab Information Technology Board has prepared software for the distribution of free wheat flour bags and the families registered in the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) will be able to get a special package of free flour, while unregistered families can get free flour by registering over the phone.
Commissioners, RPOs, deputy commissioners and DPOs will monitor this program in their respective districts. It was further directed to conduct an awareness campaign for the relief package.