Thursday, December 23

Punjab asks Centre to allow wheat export

In a resolution passed unanimously by the Punjab Assembly here on Friday, the House has demanded of the Federal government to allow the provincial dispensation for exporting wheat falling beyond its use.
MMA’s Ali Haider Noor Khan Niazi presented a resolution where it was maintained that in 2009, despite financial constraints and beyond its annual use of three million tons of wheat, the Punjab govt had to purchase 5.782million tons of wheat in order to avoid financial crisis of the farmers though the govt had to borrow Rs 130 billion. In 2010, 3.722m tons of the wheat was purchased though 2.9m tons were still in the stores, which added to the debt burden. Resultantly, the provincial govt was under debt to the tune of Rs 186bn, and paying interest as well.
“The Provincial govt has repeatedly demanded of the federal govt to make arrangements for export of extra wheat, but no positive progress has been made so far. On the arrival of next crop, the stock of 3.8 million tons ton wheat is expected out of which 0.8m tons of wheat will be surplus to the next year’s total requirement. The quantity of 2.5 m tons of wheat is also included in the huge quantity of 3.8m ton of wheat, which was procured for the needs of the federal govt, which has not made any arrangements for its supply or disposal so far. If the possible target of wheat procurement is fixed 4m tons for the next year like the previous year, the provincial govt will have to stock 7.8m tons of wheat for which financial and administrative expenses will be unbearable for the provincial government. Under such circumstances, immediate steps for export of extra wheat have become inevitable as in the presence of stock of 3.8m ton, neither banks would provide the desired amounts nor Punjab Food Department would make arrangements of stock of wheat and other requirements. This reflects the worst situation which demands immediate steps to cope with this situation, otherwise, there is every likelihood to cause irreparable loss to the farmers and agri-economy of Punjab which, in fact, will be a serious set back to the socio-economic structure of the country. Therefore, this Assembly demands federal government to take immediate steps for ensuring export of extra wheat,” said the resolution.
Earlier, the Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan did not allow two minority members Joel Aamir Sahotra and Pervaiz Rafique bring a resolution again demanding of the federal govt to initiate proper legislation against the misuse of 295 B/C (blasphemy law). They also wanted that a judicial commission should be constituted to impartially probe all cases registered as per the blasphemy law. After Speaker’s denial to grant them permission, they walked out of the House. However, they were brought back to the House and the Speaker welcomed them. The members repeatedly made futile attempts to speak, but the speaker did not allow them asserting it was ‘very sensitive issue’. Even PPP minister Ashraf Sohna could not speak, while Ali Haider Niazi could warn, “we will not allow anyone to even think for making amendments in the blasphemy law.”
The Speaker also asked PPP’s Senior Minister Punjab Minister Raja Riaz Ahmed not to use indecent words, which could irk the Opposition. This was done when PML-Q’s Seemal Kamran pointed out what she considered ‘non-serious attitude of the Senior Minister’. As a protest, she walked out from the floor demanding “the Senior Minister should behave like parliamentarians.” She was duly supported by her colleague Dr Samia Amjad, who requested the Speaker to take notice of the Minister.
On a Point of Order Raja Riaz rejected the WikiLeaks, and asserted this was just a conspiracy to create rift among the Muslim countries. He wanted that all must condemn the conspiracy and the culprits should be punished, while the PPP had already rejected the cables.
Later, the House considered Privilege Motions, but kept pending on the request of Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah. However, Adjournment Motions, pended during the 20th session, were disposed off after reply by the Law Minister, who also laid the Annual Report on Observance and Implementation of Principles of Policy for the year 2009. He also introduced the Provincial Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2010, which was referred to the standing committee with the direction to submit its report in one month.
Earlier, the Speaker announced the names of MPAs for the panel of chairmen, which include Mian Yawar Zaman, Mian Mohsin Latif, Amanullah Dreshak and Ms Bushra Gardezi. A newly elected MPA Raina Rizvi also took oath. The House offered Fateha for the former parliamentarian Haji Maqsood Butt and for the relatives of the parliamentarians and bureaucrats, who had died recently.

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