Sasti Roti (cheap bread) is the most controversial welfare scheme of Punjab government since its launch. The Punjab government came up with the ‘Sasti Roti Scheme’ at a time when the prices of flour reached sky high. The opposition & governor Punjab Salman Taseer alleges that Sasto roti scheme is an extravagant policy of the Shahbaz government considering the financial imbroglio of the province. Governor Salman Taseer said that the Punjab government is facing a deficit of Rs 25b in tax collection. He termed the scheme a huge fraud, saying that 80 percent of tandoors of the scheme were operating in Lahore and Faisalabad.
On the other hand Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has defended the Sasti Roti Scheme, saying people, who are dying of hunger, cannot be deprived of affordable food. He further vows that the Sasti Roti Scheme would continue despite criticism from some quarters.
Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah and Governor Punjab Salman Taseer are in war of words over the issue from past few days. Both are busy in accusing each other but not at all serious on reaching a consensus about the financial problem of the province. The scheme has become an egocentric matter for the CM and he is not willing to roll it back at any cost.
Dawn Editorial on Sunday, 09 May, 2010 calls it costly roti scheme and highlights some important measures that should be taken:
The scheme has cost a hefty Rs4.662m a day over the last 20 months or so. Incurring such staggering daily expenditure during a financial crunch is only possible if money meant for other schemes and development projects is slashed. Experts suggest there are better ways to enable people to cope with inflation than a scheme marred by pilferage and urban bias. Anything that boosts economic activity and creates more job opportunities, they say, is a better alternative. The government should, therefore, invest more in development schemes rather than allow them to slow down or come to a halt because of the sasti roti scheme or other unhelpful subsidy measures.