Punjab govt to encourage private agri markets

LAHORE:Punjab government has initiated reforms under Punjab Agriculture Marketing Regulatory Authority (PAMRA) Act to effectively control the prices of agricultural commodities and modernize the system of agricultural markets.

It was also decided to encourage the private sector and farmers to set up private markets as per the new rules.

This was stated in a meeting chaired by Provincial Industries Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal to review the price control measures.

Punjab Chief Secretary, administrative secretaries of relevant departments including Industries and Food, and 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 measures regarding the crushing season, the new system of market committees and prices, and the availability of essential commodities, especially sugar.

On this occasion, Provincial Minister said that deputy commissioners would determine the prices of commodities and ensure implementation of rate lists in their respective districts.

He directed that officers should evolve a mechanism of a forecast for the production, demand, and supply of fruit, vegetables and other commodities in districts to stave off the shortage of any essential item.

He said that provision of relief to common man was the top priority of the government and all possible steps would be taken to ensure availability of essential commodities at fixed rates.

The Chief Secretary said that as per the directions of the Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, the Special Branch and Urban Unit were monitoring the price control measures which had 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 were not being displayed.

Chief Secretary asked the officers to facilitate the establishment of new fruit and vegetable markets by the private sector and farmers. The main reason for the clear difference in the prices of vegetables in different cities was the outdated system of auctions in the markets. The new system would 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 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 millers and take strict action against the mills for default.