Lahore: Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi presided over the first formal meeting of caretaker Punjab cabinet today. The meeting which lasted for more than three hours gave approval unanimously to wheat procurement campaign in the province.
On several occasions, the Chie Minister talked in a lighter mood and said that light entertainment is also necessary during serious topic. On the occasion, Najam Sethi also read the beautiful comments of renowned Indian writer Khashwant Singh regarding Lahore upon which all cabinet members smiled.
The meeting also lauded the services of outgoing Advocate General Punjab Ashtar Ausaf.
Punjab Chief Minister, Najam Sethi presided over first meeting of caretaker provincial cabinet at Chief Minister’s Secretariat today. Provincial Ministers, Chief Secretary, Secretaries and concerned officials attended the meeting.
Caretaker Cabinet gave approval to the wheat procurement campaign 2013-14 in the province during the meeting. Addressing the meeting, Najam Sethi said that the farmers would be given due return of their produce during wheat procurement campaign and the campaign will continue in a transparent manner. He said that the process of distribution of gunny bags (bardana) among the farmers would be transparent and impartial. He warned that in case of any complaint, strict disciplinary action will be taken.
The Chief Minister said that Punjab government has fixed 40 lakh metric ton as wheat procurement target. He said that all arrangements have been completed in this regard and the process of distribution of bardana among the farmers will be started from April 15 throughout the province whereas formal purchase of wheat would be started from April 20. He directed the concerned officials that the process of distribution of bardana among farmers should be completely transparent and impartial and its provision to small farmers should be ensured on priority basis. He disclosed that 376 wheat procurement centres have been set up throughout the province out of which, 183 are flag centres whereas 193 are formal storage centres.
The Chief Minister said the provincial caretaker cabinet has decided that the role of middleman should be strongly discouraged during the wheat procurement campaign for providing maximum benefit to the farmers. He directed concerned authorities to take such effective steps for stopping the role of middleman during wheat procurement campaign as could result in maximum benefit to the farmers. He said that complaint centres regarding wheat procurement would be established at provincial, district and division level where farmers could get register their complaints. He said that the complaint centres will take immediate notice of any complaint of the farmers and remove it on priority basis.
The Chief Minister said that wheat procurement campaign would be monitored on daily basis and procurement centres will remain open from 8 am to 5 pm without any break. The Chief Minister directed that Food Department should work on war footings regarding wheat procurement campaign and farmers should not face any difficulty in getting bardana.
Najam Sethi, addressing the meeting said that the basic responsibility of caretaker government is to ensure holding of elections in the province in a transparent and impartial manner and vowed that caretaker government will discharge this national responsibility efficiently. He said that law and order situation in the province will be further improved and the ongoing projects continued. He said that we have not assumed offices for any accountability but to hold elections. He said that we have to discharge official responsibility impartially and ensure holding of elections in a transparent manner according to the principles evolved by Election Commission.
During the meeting, Secretary Food gave a briefing to the caretaker cabinet regarding the arrangements made for wheat procurement campaign and informed that monitoring committees have been constituted at tehsil and district level which will review the procurement campaign on daily basis.
Concerned District Coordination Officer will be the head of monitoring committee at district level whereas complaint cells have been setup at Secretariat of Food Department, Directorate and Divisional level for immediate redressal of the complaints of farmers and their number will be toll free. Secretary Finance informed the cabinet about the preparations of budget for the new fiscal year.