Monday June 24, 2024

Wheat crisis: PM orders suspension of 2 PASSCO officials

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday, reiterating government’s sharp focus on economic advancement

By Our Correspondent
May 14, 2024
A farmer harvests wheat crops in a field in Peshawar. — AFP/File
A farmer harvests wheat crops in a field in Peshawar. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday directed the authorities concerned to develop a mobile phone application to ensure transparent procurement of wheat and ordered the suspension of two senior officers of PASSCO over their negligence in this regard.

The prime minister, chairing a high-level meeting to review the demand and supply and procurement of wheat by the federal government, ordered the suspension of the Managing Director (MD) of Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) and Meneral Manager Procurement for their failure to implement the earlier directives of utilising the technology in the wheat procurement.

Calling for crops’ insurance and a third-party audit of PASSCO’s stock, he instructed the organisation to procure an additional 400,000 metric tonnes of wheat through a transparent process. The prime minister said the government would not tolerate any economic loss to the farmers and resolved to take all-out measures for their prosperity and bringing food security in the country. He assured that the government would reward the outstanding PASSCO centers and officers during the procurement process.

Federal cabinet members Muhammad Aurangzeb, Rana Tanveer Hussain, Ahad Khan Cheema, Jam Kamal Khan, Shaza Fatima Khawaja, Coordinator to PM Rana Ehsan Afzal and relevant senior officers attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday, reiterating government’s sharp focus on economic advancement, said it was pursuing its agenda of growth through massive reforms and structural changes.

“My government is totally committed to bringing huge reforms and huge structural changes. We are inching towards that direction, as, otherwise, it will be a futile exercise and will not produce proportionate results. We are absolutely focused on the agenda of reforms,” he said in an interview with Saudi state-owned television channel Al Arabiya.

The prime minister informed the interviewer that Pakistan was faced with huge challenges at the macroeconomic level like GDP growth ratio, huge loans, energy shortage, weak power transmission system, line losses and expensive power generation. Other challenges include revenue generation, corruption, less utilisation of technology, and lack of monitoring and supervision, he added.

The prime minister spoke high of the Saudi leadership and their cooperation with Pakistan, saying that the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations went back to centuries and there was no parallel of this relationship on the globe.

“We are brothers. We understand each other and share each other’s grief and happiness. We are partners in progress and prosperity, not only in the two countries but also in the region,” he remarked while explaining to a question as to why every Pakistani leader opted to pay the first foreign visit to the Kingdom after assuming office.

Referring to recent high-level interactions between the two countries, he mentioned his two meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Kingdom, the visit of Saudi foreign minister and a huge Saudi business delegation to Pakistan recently. “This shows that the Saudi leadership is very serious and sincere to enhance relations with Pakistan not only in diplomacy but investment, trade, culture and between the youth of two countries,” he added.

Shehbaz Sharif said that during his Saudi visit, he had the “most intense and comprehensive” discussion with Saudi authorities wherein two sides had agreed to cooperate in multiple sectors. He applauded the progress achieved by the Kingdom under the Saudi Crown Prince’s leadership, and his Vision 2030, calling it a role model for many countries.

Asked about the outcome of recent interactions, the prime minister said: “We have achieved great progress. We have identified areas of cooperation - both B2B and G2G. Now there is a clear-cut way forward for mutual cooperation in investment, mines, minerals and renewable energy.”

He said Pakistan was still an agrarian economy and by using modern technologies, both countries could enhance cooperation to produce fruits, vegetables, wheat, sugarcane, and sunflower to convert them into value-added products and export to Gulf region and other countries.

Similarly, Pakistan could help provide its skilled IT manpower to the Kingdom to help grow both economies. He said other countries like Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Turkiye and China could also become partners in this fields and help bring an economic revolution in the country.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday congratulated Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on his election as Chairman of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQMP).

The prime minister, in a statement, said that while serving as the MQMP convener, Khalid Maqbool had inculcated a new spirit in the party which supported the government in its tough decisions made in the national interests. He expressed the hope that under Siddiqui’s leadership, the MQMP would truly represent the people and play a more active for the resolution of their issues.