KARACHI: The cash-strapped Sindh government is unlikely to procure wheat from growers in the province this year, citing the worst financial crisis and availability of carry-over wheat, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Insiders confided in Pakistan Today that the provincial food department has more than 500,000 tons of wheat stock from the last season’s procured wheat. Last year, the Sindh food department had procured 1.4 million tonnes of wheat while the federal government allowed the export of 0.5 million tons of stocked wheat.
According to sources, the food department had forwarded a summary to the Sindh chief minister (CM) for his approval to export 150,000 tons of wheat; however, the summary became a victim of lengthy bureaucratic procedures that resulted in a delay while more than 200,000 tons of wheat will be issued to the chakis in the province.
The Sindh Cabinet, which met recently under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had also decided not to procure any wheat from the growers this season saying that the province was going through the worst financial crisis.
“Moreover, banks have also refused to finance the provincial government for the procurement of millions of tons of wheat,” sources added.
According to a senior official at the chief minister’s secretariat who wished not to be named, food authorities also briefed the cabinet that the gunny bags used to be distributed among the elected representatives and district food authorities. “The whole process costs billions of rupees of the provincial exchequer with no facilitation to wheat growers,” he added.
The official said that no procurement this year would lead to several protests by the province’s growers after the recent sugar crisis.