Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the federal ministries and provincial governments to bring down prices of wheat, sugar, cooking oil, fruits and vegetables to provide relief to public.

This was stated by Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting.

Addressing a press conference here, she said the prime minister held a three-hour long meeting on Friday with chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, chief secretaries, ministries of food, agriculture, statistics, commerce and industry and cane commissioners and asked them to adopt a comprehensive strategy on ways to reduce prices of essential commodities.

The prime minister directed that people should be shielded from hikes in prices and availability of food items should be ensured, she told.

Firdous said price of wheat had increased in the Sindh province after its government had failed to procure the commodity and its stocks had depleted.

She said Bilawal Bhutto held a public meeting in Sindh on government expense.

The Sindh government was doing politics by using public resources while on the other hand due to its inefficiency and incapability, it had failed to keep the prices of wheat down, she added.

The prime minister took notice of the situation and issued instructions that Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation (PASSCO) should release 0.1 million ton of wheat for the Sindh province to reduce prices and help the people oppressed by their rulers, she explained.

The special assistant said the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) was instructed to come up with a comprehensive strategy and recommendations in three days on release of stock of wheat and cut in prices, adding wheat would also be imported to ensure its availability at cheap prices.

Dr Firdous said for the first time, last year the sugarcane farmers received payments as per support price of Rs180 per 40 kilogramme.

The PM expressed dismay at increase of prices of sugar and asked the provinces along with ministry of industry to keep the prices stable and take action against profiteers and hoarders.

The chief ministers were asked to establish farmer markets to end the role of middlemen so that farmers could benefit and consumers could get relief in prices of vegetables, fruits and perishable items.

The Federal Board of Revenue was instructed to rationalise the regulatory duty on import of cooking oil.

She said after the stoppage of import of tomatoes and onion from India, their prices had increased but now the situation would improve after the arrival of these vegetables in the market from Sindh.

She told that Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) would establish a land bank and evolve a business plan to set up schools, colleges, university, parks and hospitals in the interest of people and to generate revenue.

The prime minister instructed that Punjab government should withdraw court cases to stop undue litigation on the agricultural, commercial land and properties of ETPB so that it could be used for projects.

Public interest projects would be set up at the land encroached by shrines and the record of charity collected by beneficiaries would be used for setting up a university, langars and shelter homes and to provide facilities to pilgrims and population living in vicinity.

To a question, she said economic indicators were improving, current account deficit and exports were increasing and when funds would flow in the national exchequer, new homes and jobs would become available.

She said the government was fighting against money laundering, adding our enemies had failed in their attempt as Financial Action Task Force (FATF) did not put Pakistan in its black list, however they were still trying to destabilise Pakistan.

She said those who damaged the economy were now claiming to put it on track, adding people had rejected their hollow claims.