Punjab government agrees to debate wheat and sugarcane prices in the assembly


–Minister says that medical store owners want to sell low-quality drugs

–Provincial govt to get an approval of 4-month supplementary budget from the assembly


LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to hold a general discussion over the prices of sugarcane and wheat in the house on Thursday during the ongoing session of the Punjab Assembly.

As per the details, the demand to have a general discussion on these important issues came from the opposition benches which was immediately accepted by the ministers present in the house and Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal said that general discussion would be held on Thursday.

Sardar Shahabud Din, a lawmaker from Layyah, who got elected on the ticket of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 2013 and now has joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), raised the issue of poor farmers and said that the owners of sugar mills have exploited the small farmers in connivance with the Punjab government.

“First, they exploited the poor sugarcane growers and now they are also planning to exploit the farmers who are involved in the wheat crop as the season to buy wheat from them is inching closer,” Sardar said, adding that the government should grill those policymakers who are crafting such anti-poor policies.

He demanded to have a general discussion in the house to debate the policy of wheat buying and the speaker directed the food minister and sugarcane commissioner to come in the house on Thursday when these issues would be debated. It became really difficult for the speaker as seven lawmakers, including Mian Aslam Iqbal, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Maulana Ilyas Chinioti, Arif Abbasi, Shunila Ruth, Asif Mahmood and Faiza Malik stood on their seats demanding the floor at the same time as all of them wanted to speak on the issues related to public importance. The poor plight of farmers was also raised by PTI’s Mian Aslam Iqbal of and PPP’s Faiza Malik.

PTI’s Arif Abbasi talked about the strike of medical store owners and chemists while speaking on a point of order and said that he raised the same issue in the house five days ago but the government did not pay any heed to his concerns and now they all are staging a sit-in just outside the assembly.

“The patients are dying and hundreds of emergency operations have been put on halt as all the medical stores of the province are observing strike due to the cruel policies of the government,” said Abbasi.

Minister for Auqaf and Religious Affairs Zaeem Qadri, who was present in the house at that time, said that the government is holding negotiations with the protesting chemists and some medical store owners have ended their strike in the interest of the patients. He further added that these medical store owners wanted to sell drugs of low quality but the Punjab government would not allow them at all to indulge in such business as it can put the lives of people in danger.

Meanwhile, talking outside the assembly, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the Punjab government would present the supplementary budget of four months only and it would also be passed by the current assembly as it would help the next government to run its affairs smoothly.

Earlier in the day, answers related to the housing, urban development and public health engineering department were given during the question-hour by Mines and Minerals Minister Chaudhry Sher Ali as the concerned minister was not present in the house. The session was later adjourned till Wednesday.