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July 2, 2020

PM takes stern notice of wheat, flour prices in open market

National

July 2, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The PTI government mired in challenges and crisis after crisis is now faced with wheat deficit of 1.5-2.0 million metric tons owing to which the wheat price in the open market has jumped to Rs2300 per 40kg, reveals the official document.

The availability of wheat has adversely been affected in the domestic market on account of aggressive procurement of wheat by the government. And more importantly in the presence of the wheat deficit in the country, this cash crop produce is being smuggled to Afghanistan by unscrupulous elements and to this effect the government has failed so far. “This has irritated and perturbed the prime minister of Pakistan in the recently held high level meeting.”

The premier, while taking the stern notice of wheat and flour price in the open market, has also directed Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam to come up with the 5-10 years plan based on factual numbers to rein in the increasing price of flour, it was told that Punjab government has started working to provide the subsidy to the tune of billions of rupees. The prime minister again stressed and asked the Ministry of National Food Security to furnish recommendations to cope with the wheat crisis. As per documents, Adviser to PM on Finance and Revenue Dr Hafeez Shaikh sensitised the premier saying that the country is facing deficit of 1.5-2.0 million metric tons and because of the aggressive procurement by the government, wheat supply crisis has hit the open market owing to which price of open market has swelled. The local official price of wheat stands at Rs1550-1575 per 40kg whereas its price in the international market stands at Rs1770 per 40kg which is why the wheat is being smuggled to Afghanistan.

KP and Balochistan governments have not purchased the wheat crop and because of this very reason both the provincial governments’ dependence has increased on other provinces of Sindh and Punjab who have procured the wheat.

The Punjab government has been asked to release 900,000 tons of wheat to the said provinces and the private sector has been asked to import the wheat at the maximum. The border security forces have also been asked to increase vigilance on the smuggling of wheat. The Punjab government and PASSCO have been asked to cater to wheat needs in KP and Balochistan. The government of Sindh has also been requested to release the wheat in the open market to stabilise the wheat price.

However, cabinet ministers in the meeting expressed their reservations over the release of wheat from storages of the government at the very outset saying the governments normally release the wheat in the open market at the end of the year.

In the meeting Punjab expressed reservation for fixing the official price at Rs1550-1575 per 40kg saying that in last year the support price stood at Rs1300 whereas it was released at price of Rs1350. However, this time the support price was set at Rs1400 and after including the incidental charges that increased from Rs50 to Rs175 per 40kg, the price of wheat has increased which resulted in the increase in flour price.

In the meeting questions have been raised on the data about the consumption of wheat and its production.

The meeting was also told that the transportation of wheat and its supply is being well monitored.