Center restores subsidized wheat quota of 160000 MT to GB

ISLAMABAD: As Gilgit Baltistan is facing a short supply of wheat from the center following a disparity in wheat prices in the market and allocated subsidy, the federal government on Friday has announced that GB would be supplied the required quota of 160000 MT during this financial year.

As per an office memorandum of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MNFS&R), issued here on Friday, PASSCO has been instructed to ensure supply of 160,000MT wheat to the government of Gilgit Baltistan at the ratio of 50:50 local and imported stocks.

In continuation to the food ministry, letter of even number dated 16-09-2022 on the subject and to inform that the ECC of the Cabinet in its meeting held on September 8, 2022 had approved the recommendation of MNFS&R and allowed supply of 160,000 MT of wheat for the year 2022-23 at the ratio of 50:50 local and imported stock from PASSCO with full cost and incidental charges fixed by the Finance Division.

As per the documents, in line with the instructions of MNFS&R, PASSCO has made an interim arrangement for uninterrupted supply of wheat to Gilgit-Baltistan and so far; a quantity of 78,000 MT has already been supplied from PASSCO’s stock.

“The Government of Gilgit-Baltistan is, therefore, requested to make necessary arrangements for immediate lifting of the remaining quantity of 82,000 MT, in order to maintain demand and supply situation in the area and to stabilize wheat prices,” said the notification.

Meanwhile, an insider informed this scribe that while approving the release of full quota to GB, the Finance Division has not been consulted as there would be shortage of subsidized amount (Rs 8 billion allocated for this financial year) as the imported wheat would be costlier compared to the local wheat.

Last year the ECC had rejected the increase in wheat quota due to financial constraints, asking the regional government to increase the price of the commodity by 70 per cent to compensate for the additional purchase of wheat to secure the additional release.

A summary was submitted to ECC for the grant of additional subsidized wheat to GB. However, the Ministry of Finance had set the condition of increasing prices for an increase in the quota as the additional wheat on a subsidized rate would burden the central government’s budget.

It was informed that the Finance Division can only support an increase in wheat quota from 150,000 to 160,000 MT per annum provided the sale price of wheat is enhanced up to 70pc of the support price in phases.

As per documents available with this scribe, on the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan’s request, the ministry of Food Security and Research had submitted a summary for enhancement of allocation of GB’s wheat quota to 160,000 MT.

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