For averting looming wheat crisis: Govt moving towards importing 2.2m ton wheat

September 20, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Showing its displeasure over $278 per ton price of 150,000 metric tons wheat tender by the ECC, the lingering crisis is worsening and now the government is moving towards importing 2.2...

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ISLAMABAD: Showing its displeasure over $278 per ton price of 150,000 metric tons wheat tender by the ECC, the lingering crisis is worsening and now the government is moving towards importing 2.2 million ton wheat for averting looming crisis.

Top official sources confirmed to The News on Saturday that the federal government and provinces would have to absorb subsidy amount on wheat import price and existing fixed price of wheat at domestic levels. When the imported wheat benchmark would be set then the actual required subsidy amount would be determined. One federal government official said that things became complex in the aftermath of 18th constitutional amendments because practically there were five governments -- one federal government and four provincial governments.

In the last ECC meeting when the price of 150,000 metric tons was placed at price of $278 per 40 kg, the ECC turned into heated debate and finally it was returned to the TCP and respective ministry to take decision arguing that it was the appropriate forum for taking decision so the concerned ministry should take decision on it.

It was also reminded by some participants of the ECC that the tender price might escalate further but the decision was made to explore opportunity for making efforts to save each and every penny instead of taking decision in haste so the concerned ministry was directed to take decision cautiously.

It was also cited during the ECC meeting that the sugar prices were pitched on higher side recently when the government decided to import sweetener but the ministry concerned rejected such higher pricing tenders. Then the pricing in tenders reduced so the government should adopt the same policy for importing wheat.

On other hand, another federal minister told this scribe that the import of wheat was lingering on for last eight months and so far it seemed that delayed decision making would cause immense loss to government on ensuring food security.

The sources said that the government was all set for importing increased quantity of wheat as the private sector had already booked orders of 0.8 million tons of wheat while the government was moving towards bringing 1.5 million tons of wheat. There is possibility of procuring 2,20,000 metric tons from G to G levels from Russia but its so far not yet confirmed. The decisions are delayed and the prices of wheat/flour in the domestic market are rising. The prices of Chakki flour has already touched Rs75 per kg in the domestic market and it is going up with passing of every day.

There is need to ascertain exact shortages of wheat and then the government will have to move forward otherwise this looming wheat crisis will have far reaching political consequences for the incumbent regime. The farmers and experts are fearing of blown out of crisis like situation but the government can avert it through timely decisions and right kind of interventions.



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