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Punjab Govt to Facilitate Establishment of Private Agri Markets

-- Chief Secretary takes notices of delay in payments to cane growers

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LAHORE– On the direction of the Prime Minister, the Punjab government has initiated reforms under the Punjab Agriculture Marketing Regulatory Authority (PAMRA) Act to effectively control the prices of agricultural commodities and modernize the system of agricultural markets. It has also decided to encourage the private sector and farmers to set up private markets as per the new rules.

This was explained at a briefing during the meeting presided over by Provincial Industries Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal to review the price control measures. The Chief Secretary Punjab, administrative secretaries of relevant departments including industries and food, commissioner, deputy commissioner Lahore, chief executive officer of Urban Unit, and special secretary of agriculture marketing attended the meeting. The divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners participated through video conferencing. The meeting reviewed, in detail, the crushing season, the new system of market committees and prices, and the availability of essential commodities, especially sugar.

Speaking at the meeting, the Provincial Minister said that the deputy commissioners themselves determine the prices of commodities in districts; implementation of rate lists is also their responsibility. He directed that officials should evolve a mechanism of a forecast for the production, demand, and supply of fruits and vegetables and other commodities in districts to stave off the shortage of any essential item. He said that the provision of relief to the common man is the top priority of the government and all possible steps would be taken to ensure the availability of essential commodities at fixed rates.

The Chief Secretary Punjab said that as per the directions of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister Punjab, the Special Branch and Urban Unit are monitoring the price control measures which have yielded positive results. He warned that in case of non-implementation of the rate lists, the deputy commissioner concerned would be held accountable. He also sought a report from the Special Branch on those tehsils where price lists at shops are not displayed.

The Chief Secretary asked the officers to facilitate the establishment of new fruits and vegetable markets by the private sector and farmers. He said that the main reason for the clear difference in the prices of vegetables in different cities is the outdated system of auctions in the markets. The new system will help end the monopoly of middlemen and commission agents. He said that executive officers have to play an active role in improving the system of market committees, adding that improvement should be visible.

Taking notice of the delay in payments to sugarcane growers by sugar mills in some districts, the Chief Secretary said that the government would protect the rights of farmers in any case. He directed the deputy commissioners to ensure timely and complete payment to the sugarcane growers by the sugar mills and take strict action against the mills over default.— HANDOUT