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Feb 3rd, 2008 #1
Ration cards again Thursday, January 24, 2008
For the first time in decades, ration cards are to be introduced once again as a means to enable people to obtain ';atta' at affordable prices. The decision taken in this respect by the federal caretaker cabinet underscores what grave proportions the wheat flour crisis in the country has assumed, and particularly the increased sense of insecurity it has created for many families who remain uncertain of whether, and at what price, they will be able to obtain the sacks of 'atta' that provide the staple grain for most people. It has been stated that the ration cards will be given to low- and middle-income families, enabling them to purchase 'atta' at set prices from utility stores. As yet no details regarding the criterion on which cards will be given to such persons have been announced. The administration must, while drawing up the strategy in this regard, keep in mind that in the past, the ration card system has been misused – and with elections approaching care must also be taken to ensure it does not become a means for local government officials or others in influential places to favour handpicked individuals. The use of the 'atta' crisis to gain political mileage has already been reported across Punjab, and the possibility that attempts may be made to extract similar advantage from the ration card system must be guarded against.
While the cabinet's efforts to offer relief to those worst hit by the 'atta' crisis are appreciable, the need to discover exactly how the present situation came about must be stressed. The fact is that, with a bumper wheat harvest reported early in 2007, the current shortage should simply not have arisen. The caretaker prime minister has correctly warned that stringent action will be taken against hoarders, smugglers and black marketers. But the possibility of those who at one point occupied key government slots being involved must also be looked into, and evidence that emerges in this regard not ignored, even if it proves to be a source of embarrassment to those at the top.
The allegations from opposition parties that the Punjab government or central finance planners engaged in the fudging of figures, or even that amounts running into millions were minted by creating the wheat crisis are after all extremely grave ones. Not surprisingly former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi has blamed former prime minister Shaukat Aziz for the atta crisis. Indeed, it has been reported that so widespread has the trend of manipulating figures grown that even government departments themselves are no longer certain what the 'real' data is. This situation not only makes planning in any sector virtually impossible, it also puts the welfare of people and the stability of the country at risk when essential food crops such as wheat are involved. As for the ugly allegations of corruption, they need a probe at the very highest level – if only to clear the names of reputations of those towards whom fingers are being pointed, or else to punish them for so selfishly playing with the fate of citizens.
The effectiveness of the ration card system to be enforced will become clearer only over time, once the details and the method of implementing the new rules, are made known. Till then, it can only be hoped the measure will bring some relief to people who have faced a growing 'atta' crisis for many weeks now and have found that many of the official promises made that it would be controlled within days carried no weight at all.
Feb 4th, 2008 #2
'Abdul Qadir Hasan' who wrote the article, is he educated or illiterate?
I am really amazed that a newspaper like 'Jang' that has so much resources and is considered as one of the most read Newspaper, plus branch of same newspaper is GEO TV as well as 'The News' have such people writing articles in the paper who do not even understand the meaning of 'Ration card'. I am really sad that such Newspapers are allowed to spread lies in the country and also feel surprised that many who might claim to be literate are spreading this lie further.
Ration Card: This is issued when there is shortage of something in the country and thus government use it so that all in the country get that commodity in quantity that government thinks is appropriate for individuals. Thus, every individual in the country gets ration card, whoever that may be. Ration card is not discriminatory in any way, and thus it is not used for subsidizing a commodity.
Utility store: is used to subsidies poor in the country and thus prices in utility stores are maybe 10 to 20 percent cheaper than open market. It is not expected that those who can afford utilities from open market would use utility stores to buy them.
Unfortunately, since Atta became too pricey in open market, many started using utility stores and that means, government had to come up with a way to make sure only those go to utility stores who are amongst poorest.
So, what I understand, government is thinking to start a 'Utility card' that only poor would get, and thus it would be only poor that would be able to buy certain goods from utility stores. I do not think that it is bad idea, but for some people like 'Abdul Qadir Hasan', either due to their ignorance or because of yellow journalism, even that is something to cry about.
Instead of appreciating the government that they think of poor in the country, some people want to spread lies for nothing. Actually, these people want that government do nothing for poor and if government do try to subsidies poor, these people want similar subsidy for rich too ... that means, they want government to subsidies Atta price for all, bringing Atta price down to earth price even in open market when world Atta price is sky high.
I hope someone can tell this ignorant, the difference between 'Ration Card' meant for all, needed when there is shortage of commodity in the country ... and 'Utility Card' meant for only poor, needed so that rich do not take advantage of subsidy meant for only poor.
Last edited by Sa1eem; Feb 4th, 2008 at 04:57 AM.
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