Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday announced that 15.8 million households of Punjab province will be provide free wheat flour during the month of Ramzan as part of the government’s Ramzan Package.
Chairing a meeting—also attended by Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi and Adviser to the P.M. Ahad Cheema—to review the implementation of the initiative, the premier noted that this was the first time in Pakistan’s history that a package for distribution of free wheat flour had been prepared. He said the free commodity would be distributed from the 25th of Sha’ban to the 25th of Ramzan through 8,500 Utility Stores. Additionally, he said, 20,000 flour distribution points would also be set up to facilitate the people.
Directing authorities to ensure transparency in the distribution of free flour among the poor, Sharif also instructed them to use modern technology to curb theft. He also stressed that there would be no compromise on the quality of flour being provided to the impoverished.
According to the prime minister, the federal government would assist other provinces to implement similar initiatives. He invited the provincial governments of Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to join the scheme to facilitate the poor nationwide.
Also on Monday, Sharif chaired a meeting to deliberate on policies aimed at curbing the impact of inflation on the lower and middle classes, saying free flour and subsidized petrol would be provided to one million residents of Islamabad during Ramzan.
Attended by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Adviser to the P.M. Ahad Cheema, State Minister for Petroleum Musaddik Malik and other senior officers, the meeting was informed that a program had been developed to supply free wheat flour to around 150,000 households in the outskirts of the federal capital. Stressing that the government was working to reduce the difficulties facing the poor segments of society, the prime minister also decided, in principle, to provide cheaper petrol for motorcycle and rickshaw owners. The proposal is still in the planning phase, but some officials suggested charging higher rates for cars and lower for motorcycles and rickshaw drivers to make up the difference and not damage prospects of reviving a stalled IMF program.