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SC seeks food subsidy plans from all provincial govts

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed all the provincial governments to ensure availability of subsidised edibles to public in general and especially to the deserving. 
The top court hearing the petition regarding flour prices remarked, “till the deserving do not benefit from this exercise the court will not sit silent”.
Resuming the hearing of a petition filed by JI Secretary General Liaquat Baloch against high prices of wheat flour in the country, the two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman heard the case and during the proceeding Punjab Advocate General Hanif Khatana submitted that the provincial government has planned a subsidy of Rs 7,200 for every deserving resident of the province and this plan would be implemented next year.
Punjab Food Secretary Muhammad Aslam informed the court that 20 million people were living below the poverty line in Punjab and added that the provincial government is planning to establish a social welfare authority to cater the deserving and poor living in deplorable conditions. He further stated that the above-mentioned authority would work for better food supply and will take steps to improve health and education facilities as well.  
During the proceedings, National Food Security Secretary Seerat Asghar appeared and informed the court that the federal government is providing billions in subsidies for relief of the poor through the Baitul Mal, Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and the Utility Stores Corporation. 
He said that the government had also raised an issue in the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to control food prices and also asked provinces for durable solutions to control prices.
During the last hearing the top court directed all four provincial governments to submit a detailed report to the top court regarding the subsidy on flour prices provided to the citizens throughout the country. 
KP Food Security Director Muhammad Anwar informed the apex court that about 5.1 million residents of the province were living below the poverty line and further stated during the hearing that the provincial government is introducing a voucher policy to ensure supply of edibles to those deserving on subsidised rates.
Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Advocate General Latif Yousafzai informed the court that the KP government has planned a subsidy of Rs 10 per kilogramme on flour and that a subsidy of Rs 40 on edible oil was finalised by the KP government July 22 onwards. 
Similarly, Sindh Food Secretary informed the top court that about 15 million people of the province lived below the poverty line. Sindh Advocate General appraised the court that the Sindh government has increased the subsidy from Rs 3 billion to Rs 4.6 billion.
Advocate General Balochistan informed the court that the provincial government is collecting data to provide subsidy to the deserving people. On this justice Ejaz Afzal remarked that everything is on papers but nothing seems accomplished practically. The apex court directed the Balochistan government to devise a subsidy plan for the poor and deserving segments of the province within one month and adjourned hearing of the case till August 20.

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