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July 18, 2019

Govt bans export of wheat, flour to check price hike


July 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Government on Wednesday slapped a ban on export of wheat and flour to arrest recent hike in prices of the staple food.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet took the decision at a meeting presided over by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Hafeez Shaikh.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Mehboob Sultan presented a report on the wheat situation in the country in the ECC. Adequate stocks of wheat are available in the country to cater for the needs of the population, Sultan said.

The procured quantity of wheat during this year was 33 percent less than last year, he added. The meeting expressed concern over the recent hike in prices of wheat and wheat flour. Food minister during a meeting last month said wheat production stood at 24.279 million tons during 2018/19.

Added with carryover stocks of 3.721 million tons, total stocks stood at 28 million tons compared with the country’s demand of 25.8 million tons, he added. Shaikh said a meeting of National Price Monitoring Committee might be convened to suggest measures to control the price hike trend of wheat products in the local market with the cooperation of the provincial governments.

The ECC allowed Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited to make a re-appropriation in its already approved budget of Rs24 billion for the upgradation of in-flight entertainment system of its fleet for eight Boeing-777 aircraft. The project will cost Rs700 million.

The meeting was told that the measures would improve the occupancy of the airline to 80 percent from the current level of 70 percent. The ECC also approved the National Fertilizer Marketing Limited (NFML) to fix the dealer transfer price of 50 kilograms

for imported urea bag at Rs1,800, which is Rs166 less than the prevailing average market price of Sona urea i.e. Rs1,966/50kg bag.

The difference in urea import price and approved dealer transfer price for NFML dealers has been estimated at Rs937.92 million. The ECC directed the NFML to ensure enforcement of the price through coordination with provincial governments.

The meeting endorsed the decision of the Governing Council of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to change the base of price statistics from 2007/08 to 2015/16. It was also decided that the old series of 2007/08 would continue to be published for another year along with the new series of 2015/16 for the purpose of comparative analysis.

On the summary moved by the ministry of commerce and textile, it was decided that the scrap slag, ash and residues containing metals, arsenic or their compounds (containing mainly aluminum) might be moved from the list of banned Items (Appendix-A) to the list of restricted items (Appendix-B) of the Import Policy Order 2016.

However, industrial consumers with recycling facilities would have permission of imports, subject to no-objection certificate from ministry of climate change and duly certified by an environmental protection agency.

There must be a pre-shipment inspection certificate and consent of focal point of Basel convention from the country of export to the effect that the waste/scrap is non-hazardous as defined in the Basel convention.

The imported consignments of the registered recycling plants can be cleared from seaport only. The ECC also considered and approved the notification of minimum indicative prices of tobacco for 2019/20. Secretary Economic Affairs Division submitted a report on the National Poverty Graduation Program of $82 million for compliance of the ECC.