ISLAMABAD: As the wheat and flour prices in the country have drastically increased under the presumption that there will be a shortage of wheat in near future, National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Commerce on Monday saw mismanagement of the government behind the hike in prices of largely consumed food items.
During a meeting of the committee, chaired by Syed Naveed Qamar, the committee demanded from the government to fix the price of wheat and announce maximum incentives to local growers to prevent wheat crisis.
The chairman highlighted serious mismanagement in prior planning of wheat imports, causing not only a shortage of wheat in the country but also a huge hike in the price of flour. Qamar directed the Ministry of Food Security to take immediate steps to address the predicted shortage of wheat.
The committee observed that the price of wheat in the market is higher than the imported rate. The committee also observed that the subsidiary benefits are going to foreign farmers in the form of imports of wheat at higher rates.
Earlier, during the meeting, the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Food Security & Research briefed the committee on import/exports of wheat and informed them that the cabinet has approved import 1.5 million metric tonnes (MT) of wheat by Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) on the recommendation of the Ministry of Food Security & Research to meet the demand in the country, which will be provided to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), as well as to the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO).
The TCP has awarded contracts of import of wheat at the $233.85 per MT and this will arrive between October 2020 to January 2021. The ministry further said that tenders floated by TCP for import of wheat on 15th September 2020 were scrapped due to high rates. The ministries updated the committee on wheat stocks, progress on import of wheat by the private sector and through TCP, and the pricing trend in the local market.
The chair directed the Ministry of Food Security & Research and TCP to keep the committee apprised on all the measures taken to address the wheat crisis and communicate the plan before the committee in 7 days.
The committee deferred the Safeguard Measures (Amendment) Bill, 2019, due to the absence of the MNA Muhammad Sanaullah Khan Masti Khal.
The meeting was attended by members of the national assembly, including Muhammad Yaqoob Shaikh, Khurram Shehzad, Mian Muhammad Shafiq, Wajiha Akram, Farukh Khan, Rana Iradat Shareef Khan, Sajida Begum, Tahira Aurangzeb, Shaista Pervaiz, Syed Javed Shah Jilani, and Usman Ibrahim.