ISLAMABAD, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- A meeting of the Pakistani federal cabinet with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair on Tuesday has decided to provide subsidy of 10 billion rupees (65 million U.S. dollars) on five essential food items in a bid to control rampant food inflation.
Briefing journalists here after the cabinet's meeting, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the subsidy of two billion rupees per month for a period of five months will be given to the Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan with an aim to help bring down prices of basic commodities including wheat, rice, sugar, oil and lentils.
Awan said a decision has been taken to ban the export of sugar, adding that the government was in process of forging a strategy to keep a check on prices of essential edible items.
The government has also decided to end import duty on lentils to decrease their prices in the domestic markets, she said.
She added that a loan facility has been approved to set up more utility stores across the country for provision of edible items of daily use to the people at affordable rates.
It was warned in the meeting that a stern action will be taken against those responsible for artificially hiking up wheat and sugar prices.
During the meeting, the prime minister has rejected the proposal of increase in prices of gas and electricity, saying no extra burden could be put on public. He directed to devise a mechanism to reduce the prices of gas and electricity to reduce the burden of inflation on people.
Taking notice of the skyrocketing inflation, Khan on Sunday announced that the government would come up with various measures to reduce the prices of basic food items.
"I understand the difficulties ordinary people including salaried class are confronting and have decided, come what may, my government will be announcing various measures that will be taken to reduce prices of basic food items for the common man in cabinet on Tuesday," the prime minister said. (1 U.S. dollar equals 154 Pakistani rupees)