ISLAMABAD: Some members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Food Security and Research have expressed concern over the non-implementation of their recommendations and the abrupt cancellation of the committee meeting in Karachi to discuss key issues.
The committee meeting had been scheduled for April 5 to discuss key issues including the import of substandard olive trees by the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (Parc) under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) project of over Rs2 billion.
The meeting in Karachi was also meant to discuss the appointment of Department of Plant Protection’s (DPP) director general (DG) who was supposed to be a professional horticulture scientist, but happens to be a retired flying officer.
“Apart from the two important issues, we also wanted to know the status on the implementation of our previous recommendations. But now we learn that the meeting has been cancelled upon the orders of the minister,” said Salman Baloch, a committee member and lawmaker belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
“No meeting can be cancelled on the will of any minister; only the committee chairman has the authority to do so,” he added.
He said if the minister did not have the time to attend the committee meeting, he could have sent any senior officer from the ministry to represent him instead of cancelling it. “We want to know how the DPP allowed the import of the infected olive trees in bulk.”
It seems, he said, that some officers are behind this cancellation. It is a deliberate act because they do not want to hold this meeting.
Baloch also expressed concerns over not issuing any notification regarding the sub-committee, which was constituted in the previous meeting of the standing committee on National Food Security and Research to further probe into the alleged irregularities in import of olive trees, despite a lapse of 20 days.
“I fail to understand as to who or what could be impeding the smooth functioning of the system. There is a serious clash of interests.
Moreover, he said that a sub-committee of the same standing committee had earlier probed the import of substandard wheat from Ukraine at a higher price despite domestic availability of the commodity.
“That report has not been presented in the house even after one year. We had worked very seriously and diligently on that report, but it was never made public,” he lamented.
He said despite recommendations from the standing committee to the ministry, no steps had been taken to replace the director general of DPP. “A pilot cannot have the experience and capability required to check and control the import of substandard commodities,” he said.
Despite repeated efforts, the NA Standing Committee Chairman on Food Security and Research Malik Shakir Bashir Awan did not comment on the issues.
Source: The Express Tribune