Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday said that his government is giving Rs462 million subsidy on essential commodities such as flour, sugar and ghee for which 108 bachat bazaars had been set up in all five divisions of the province.
“The subsidy would continue till the end of the holy month of Ramazan. However, we are taking concrete measures to stabilize prices in the market,” he said while addressing a press conference at Chief Minister’s House.
Shah disclosed that his government had set up 108 bachat bazaars, including 34 in Karachi, 19 in Hyderabad, eight in Mirpur Khas, 10 in Larkana, 17 in Shaheed Benazirabad and 19 in Sukkur.
“A 10-kilogramme flour bag is being sold at Rs400 at bachat bazaars against the market price of Rs800,” he said.
Moreover, the chief minister said that sugar was being sold at Rs70-75/kg against the market price of Rs85-90. Similarly, ghee is being sold at Rs410/kg against the market price of Rs450/kg.
Replying to a question, Shah said that his government lacked ample resources to subsidize food items throughout the year. “Yes, we are working hard to stabilize the prices in the market,” he said.
The chief minister added that he had announced Rs25,000 minimum wage on the advice of the PPP leadership but the former federal government of the PTI had resisted the move. “To me, the amount is insufficient for a worker to feed his five-member family,” he said and added he was happy that new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in his first speech had announced increasing minimum wage to Rs25,000.
On the Dadu village fire incident, the chief minister termed it a tragedy and added he had gotten assessment of the damages amounting to Rs33 million. “I had personally visited the unfortunate village and met the victim families,” he said and added that he had announced compensation money of Rs500,000 each for those who died and Rs200,000 each for the injured.
Shah said that his government had so far paid a sum of Rs4.6 million to the affected families. He added that the NDMA had also announced a compensation package of Rs10 million, of which Rs7.5 million had been disbursed.
Talking about the administrative action taken so far, the CM said that the Dadu deputy commissioner had been transferred while Hyderabad commissioner had been told to explain his position. He added that the Dadu district health officer (DHO), Mehar assistant commissioner and town officer had been suspended.
Giving details of strategic actions, Shah said that directives have been given to all officials concerned to immediately put in place the Rescue 1122 system and implement its key components. He added that the status of fire tenders across the province was being assessed and immediate measures would be taken for their operationalization.
Shah went on to say said that two more fire incidents were reported in two Tharparkar villages wherein 20 houses were reduced to ashes on Sunday. He added that all stakeholders concerned rushed to the sites and took part in rescue operations.
About load shedding, the chief executive said that rural areas were facing 12-14 hours load shedding. “I had taken up the issue with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif,” he said and added the prime minister had told him that the issue would be resolved soon.
He blamed the previous government of the PTI for dysfunctional power plants due to a shortage of fuel. “Look at their inefficiency… they could not place orders for the purchase of fuel in time,” he said.
As far as load shedding in the city is concerned, the CM said that he had asked the K-Electric MD to spare urban areas from load shedding.
To a question, the chief minister vowed to activate the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) within a week. “We are functionalizing the SPSC within a week because a large number of recruitments have to be made,” he maintained.
Referring to the local government elections, the chief minister said the draft local government law was under consideration in the ‘Select Committee’ of the provincial assembly. “We have already decided in the cabinet that the local government law will be amended in the light of Supreme Court judgement,” he said and added the draft law had nothing to do with local bodies elections.
“GDA members have no understanding of the amendments being made and that was why they were assuming that it would affect local bodies elections,” the chief minister said.
To a question about water shortage, the chief minister said that he had discussed the issue with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during his visit to Sindh and he assured him that it would be discussed in the CCI.
When asked about PTI politics, Shah said that the society had been polarized. “During his (Imran) tenure, we used to talk over the phone but not in an unpleasant environment,” he recalled. “Though there were political differences between the PPP and PML-N, we used to discuss all issues with each other during the tenures of Nawaz Sharif and Khaqan Abbasi amicably.”
Shah went on to say that the country was facing a serious economic crisis and it could not afford any further polarization. “We all have to work together,” he said.