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Defusing protest: Govt to fork out Rs6b in wheat subsidy for G-B

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ISLAMABAD:The federal government has decided to pay over Rs6 billion annual subsidy on wheat to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), “keeping in view the special weather conditions and backwardness of the area”.

HunzaNews April 29th, 2014.

This was announced on Monday at a joint press conference by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhry Barjis Tahir and the G-B Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah.

“We have reached a consensus on wheat price, which is reduced from Rs1,400 per 100kg to Rs1,100 per 100kg,” said Barjis Tahir.

He said the decision was taken on the special directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had taken notice of the ongoing protests and sit-in in the valley against raise in wheat prices.

These protests, organised by an alliance of the G-B’s political and religious parties, Awami Action Committee (AAC), continued for 12-consecutive days.

The ACC, however, called off its protest on Saturday after the government and committee representatives formally developed consensus on a price, which was later approved by the Prime Minister on Sunday.

The minister said this was the cheapest wheat price for the commodity to be offered anywhere in the country, where 100kg wheat is available at Rs5,100. He said the G-B was given this subsidy in view of its peculiar weather conditions.

Tahir said former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had given subsidy only on transportation, which was still intact. He made it clear that the government had not withdrawn subsidy at any level, adding that people in the G-B misunderstood that wheat subsidy was withdrawn and its price was increased.

Chief Minister Mehdi Shah thanked both the PM and the federal minister for resolving the long-standing issue and a key demand of the people of the G-B, without destabilising the provincial government.

“This is a pro-people decision. The federal government has kept in view the harsh weather of the area, which receives snowfall for more than eight months,” he added.

Express Tribune

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