ISLAMABAD   -   A parliamentary committee on Wednesday recommended the government to revive subsidy and give tax exemption to the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) to provide better products in low price to general public.

The Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production yesterday has discussed the performance of the Utility Stores Corporation. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Ahmed Khan here at the Parliament House.

The committee was informed that the corporation has 188 franchises in the country with 4041 regular stores and 12869 total employees. The committee was told that number of employees is surplus in the corporation. There should be around only 7000 employees in the corporation instead of existing 12869.

The government is spending Rs7.2 billion on paying salaries to the employees of Utility Stores Corporation every year, MD Utility Stores Corporation informed.

The Committee was told that utility Store is not getting any subsidy or grant for its operational expenses since 2014 and everything is being run from gross profit margin of the sale proceeds.

The government had not paid any subsidy since 2014 as it is paying subsidy under Ramazan package. The corporation was in profit till 2013. The corporation had Rs5.122 billion net loss up to March 2019 and paid Rs0.947 billion as taxes in 2018-March 2019.

The Committee strongly recommended reviving the subsidy and giving tax exemption to the corporation to provide better products in low price for general public.

MD Utility Stores Mr. Omer recommended rerouting the BISP purchases through the utility stores as it will help utility stores corporation to convert losses into profits. The Committee was told that high sales targets can be achieved if the continuous inventory is sustained at the corporation throughout the year.

The corporation has made a strategised work plan to achieve its targets by taking the current margin of sales from 8.67 percent to 10.17 percent. up-gradation of stores, hyper markets, improve branding, collaborating with BISP on Ehsaas Card Scheme, ensuring direct supply of stocks, induction of high margin products.

Reverting to TCP for purchase of sugar, purchasing wheat grain from PASCO to be milled on contractual prequalified flour mills and having a proper IT strategy was also discussed.

The meeting also discussed the matter of non-functional units of Pakistan Steel Mills and non-payment of gratuity and pensions to employees.

The Committee called upon the relevant authorities to understand the problems faced by the old pensioners and decided to call Secretary Finance in the next meeting to discuss issuing of funds for the payments.

The meeting was attended by Senators Asif Kirmani, Naseebullah Bazai, Seemee Ezdi, Aurangzeb Sitara Ayaz, Kalsoom Parveen, Hafiz Abdul Karim, Secretary Industries and Production, MD Utility Stores Corporation and other officials.