LAHORE   -   Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz on Thursday announced Rs 200 billion annual subsidy on wheat under the Chief Minister’s Relief Package which also envisaged subsidies on other edibles.

“After this record subsidy, 10-kg flour bags will be available at Rs490 instead of Rs650 from today all over Punjab,” the Chief Minister said while addressing a press conference here. Hamza said that  Rs17 billion subsidy on wheat would be provided every month which would have an overall annual accumulated effect of Rs200 billion. He said the PMLN led government had decided to decrease around 200 billion annual burden through the provision of subsidised flour. The provincial government, he said, had procured 4.5 million metric tons of wheat this year, for which, the food secretary deserved accolades. “The wheat is available in the international market at Rs4000 per maund while the government has purchased wheat from the farmers at Rs2200 per maund,” he said.  He was accompanied by MPAs, Asad Khokhar, Syed Hassan Murtaza, Moaviyah Azam, Mian Khalid Mahmood, Jugnu Mohsin, Nouman Langrial, Awais Leghari and Ata Ullah Tarar and Zeeshan Rafiqthe.

The CM said that steps were being taken to reduce prices of sugar and ghee and people would be given more good news soon in this regard. “I would visit bazaars to monitor the price control mechanism,”  he said and pointed out that the sugar mills of the Sharif family have taken the lead in reducing the sugar rate. He said the government was also trying to reduce the prices of essential items and district price control committees had been reactivated across the province along with finalising a comprehensive price control policy. “Genuine profit is a right of the traders but no one will be allowed illegal profiteering,” he observed.

Talking about the unprecedented delay in cabinet formation, he regretted that the cabinet could not take oath due to the violation of the constitution by the President. “The President did not respect the court orders and there was no example of such a violation of the constitution in 74 years of history.  The person sitting in the President’s House is the culprit of Pakistan as the province comprising 12 crore people is still working without a Governor,” he maintained.  He said enmity had been committed with the people by not taking the oath of the Punjab cabinet as numerous decisions are made by the cabinet. “But I want to make it crystal clear that I would continue to serve the masses without wasting any movement”.  He said Pervaiz Elahi had attacked women legislators of the PML-N in the assembly through goons and now he was showing another stubbornness by not taking the oath of the caretaker governor. “Who would have been responsible if something had happened to Dost Mazari?, he asked. “Pervaiz Elahi should stop shedding crocodile tears. The law will come into action”, he warned.

 Hamza also came down hard on the PTI chairman Imran Khan and accused him of trying to create anarchy and unrest. “Imran Niazi should listen that I would continue to stand with the people despite hurdles created by him and no power on earth could stop me from serving the masses”, he averred, adding that Imran Niazi played havoc with Pakistan for four years. The CM alleged regretted that Imran Niazi was conspiring to defame the constitution by attacking them and the increase in the dollar rate was the result of the inefficiency of Imran Niazi who could not decide about approaching the IMF for six months. During his period, the rupee fell by 40 percent, he added. “This man is raising the slogan of revolution by committing cruelty against the nation. It is a serious matter that Imran Niazi claimed that families of army men would take part in his march and the institutions should take notice of it. This man is not deviating from a conspiracy to defame the armed forces when enemies are active, political uncertainty is on the rise and the economy is teetering. He wants devastation of the country”, the CM regretted. He went on to say: “What was your agenda if you were not supposed to reduce the rates of potatoes and onions as PM”. He said Imran Niazi raised a false slogan of accountability but could not justify the theft of Toshakhana “You are committing enmity with Pakistan and institutions and the people would have to take notice of it because you have made friendly countries angry.

 and incurred irreparable losses to diplomatic relations”

CM maintained that his leader Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif taught him to serve the masses. “Due to the wrong policies of Imran Niazi, prices have gone through the roof. The purchasing power of the common man has almost ended.

 The life of the poor has become hell. It does not matter if my cabinet can take the oath but I would continue to stand with the masses. I would remain in this position as long as Allah Almighty is pleased I would continue to serve the masses. They are spreading chaos in the country while we are healing the wounds of the people”, he remarked.

CM Hamza vowed to resolve the problems of the people along with political allies and added that the journey of public service would be moved forward. He alleged that officers were given postings after minting money in past tenure, but hard working and honest officers were being posted on merit by the incumbent government. He announced that patients of different diseases, along with cancer, would be given free medicine and challenged Imran Niazi to face him in the political arena as he could not compete with the performance of the incumbent government. “We would not take revenge’, he added.

 To a question, he said that the PML N government handed over a load-shedding free country in 2018. He said electricity plants were not taken care of during the tenure of Imran Niazi and the near and dear ones benefited from furnace oil and the people had to face the consequences. “Farah Gogi used to run Punjab and she minted money. The real faces of the culprits of the people would be brought before the masses. PTI does not want this system to run and Imran Niazi is repeating the mantra of ‘I will not agree’ but Pakistan would continue to survive. However, the people would have to keep a vigilant eye on Imran Niazi because he is committing enmity with the country to satiate his ego. That is why he violated the constitution and if the Supreme Court had not opened at midnight, there would be no law in the country. The only solution to crises faced by the country lies in transparent elections”, he said.

To another question, he termed the long march as the fear march of Imran Niazi. “A former minister from Rawalpindi used to say that handcuffs are our jewel and jail is our home but the next day he goes to court and gets bail.” He said that Imran Niazi and his cronies would have to account for 4 years of the heist. “Shehzad Akbar kept my brother’s accounts frozen for many months and cases were filed against us as revenge, but we would not do anything that would smell of revenge”, the CM concluded.