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January 21, 2020

Manufactured crisis?

Newspost

 
January 21, 2020

Years back, around 2007-08, we had a wheat crisis. Our government permitted the export of a large amount of wheat, after claiming that we had a large produce which was surplus to domestic demand, while also claiming credit for a great wheat policy. Later, wheat was imported at very high prices, and the government again claimed that this was done in the public interest and again claimed credit for its ‘excellent’ decision-making. In those days it was rumoured that the wheat had never actually left the country; the exports and imports were on paper only. The difference in the price of exported and imported wheat was said to have been pocketed by hoarders and their political connections.

Alas, some of the major power brokers from that time are in power again and a similar situation has arisen or has been created. Export of wheat and wheat produces was permitted by the sitting government, which refused to put a ban on exports in spite of a request by Pakistan Flour Mills Association. And now, after a wheat shortage has emerged, we may once again have to import wheat. I am not sure, if anyone in real power will listen to this, but independent inquiries should be made to ensure that the export of wheat and those who now stand to gain from the potential imports, are properly scrutinized to ensure transparency.

Irfan U Khattak

Abbottabad