|Relief for the poor: PM unveils plan for 1,000 more utility stores|
25 August 2012
ISLAMABAD: In an attempt to entice voters during the election year, the government has announced that it will open 1,000 new outlets of utility stores in remote areas of the country.
The announcement was made on Friday by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who touted it as a measure to ensure the provision of essential items at subsidised rates.
He expressed these views during a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain at the PM’s House on Friday.
The premier directed the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to evolve a system for provision of 10 per cent discount at utility stores to the Benazir Debit Card holders.
Chaudhry Pervaiz informed the prime minister that the ministry of Industries was working on a plan for increasing the number of utility stores and extending the network to union council level.
Despite the announcement, doubts loom as the fiscally challenged federal government may not be able to materialise the project.
A senior official in the ministry of finance, speaking on condition of anonymity, informed The Express Tribune that, “funds for the establishment of 1,000 additional utility stores were not allocated in the federal budget for fiscal year 2012-13.”
“With the prevailing economic conditions, it is not possible for the government to apply for a supplementary budget,” he said.
The official added, that the project was conceived by the Pervez Musharraf government, aimed to increase the number of utility stores outlets to 6,000 covering all districts and union councils.
A visitor at Aabpara Market in Islamabad, while commenting on the announcement made by the prime minister, said that such steps by the government are nothing but mere political manoeuvring, intended to garner votes as polls approach.
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