ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has so far received 400,000 tons of imported wheat as the government is encouraging imports from private and public sectors to meet the staple’s shortfall in the country, the ministry of food security said on Thursday.
The food ministry’s department of plant protection has issued import permits to 573 private importers for import of 2.9 million metric tons of wheat. Eighteen wheat vessels with quantity of 1.1 million tons have been booked by private importers to arrive in Pakistan from Sept to January.
Of 18 vessels, seven vessels carrying 400,000 tons of wheat have already arrived in the country.
Giving breakup on upcoming cargoes, the food ministry said the country will receive five vessels carrying about 300,000 tons of wheat this month, followed by three vessels carrying 180,000 tons wheat in November, two vessels carrying 120,000 tons wheat in December, and one vessel carrying 60,000 tons in January.
“For making the country wheat secure, the NFSR (National Food Security and Research) has strategised three pronged strategy including, import through private sector, import by Trading Corporation of Pakistan and government-to-government arrangements,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said 178,000 tons of imported wheat was distributed to Punjab, 0.0754 million metric tons to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 0.148 million metric tons to Sindh.
State-owned Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) was allowed to import of 1.5 million tons of wheat.TCP has arranged to import 300,000 tons of wheat. The price of wheat flour will start coming down as four ships of wheat imported by TCP are seen arriving in October. Next tender for 0.30 million metric tons will be opened in coming week, according to the ministry.
The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet, in June, gave a go-ahead to the private sector to import wheat to control prices in the domestic market.
Private sector was allowed to import wheat for unlimited period. Regulatory duty of 60 percent, customs duty of 11 percent, sales tax of 17 percent and withholding tax of six percent were abolished on the import.
Imported wheat has also been exempted from the Anti-Hoarding Act imposed by the provincial governments on producing verified import record by the importers. The federal government is to approach the Sindh government to waive off the excise and taxation charges of 1.25 percent on import value of wheat.
Pakistan needs to import 100,000 to 200,000 tons of wheat every month till April next year to check price hike in the domestic market as local production is not sufficient to stabilise grain supplies, according to The News findings.