Shortage and rising prices prompt government to bolster wheat stocks – Journal
ISLAMABAD: Amid reports of shortages and rising prices, the cabinet’s Economic Coordinating Committee (ECC) on Monday decided to bolster wheat stocks by ordering three million tonnes of imports and at least 1.5 million tonnes of domestic purchases by the public sector.
An ECC meeting, chaired by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, also decided to reduce the prices of wheat, sugar and vegetable oil/ghee at Utility Stores Corporation outlets for two months.
The Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) has developed two separate summaries on importing and supplementing local wheat supply to build up strategic reserves to stabilize the local wheat market.
In its first summary, the MNFSR reported that the Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) and the Punjab government have met their wheat supply targets of 1.20 million tonnes and 4 million tonnes, respectively.
Three million tons of imports, 1.5 million tons of domestic purchases by the public sector ordered
At a recent meeting, the Prime Minister had ordered a case to be taken to the ECC for the purchase of additional quantities of 0.5 million tons and 1 million tons by Passco and Punjab respectively, as well as an additional cash credit limit (CCL).
The ECC thus endorsed the Prime Minister’s directives and requested Passco to procure an additional quantity of 0.50 million tonnes from the CCL of Rs28.50 billion and the Punjab Food Department to procure an additional quantity of 1 million tonnes from the CCL of Rs145.50 billion “in the wake of the low production of wheat in the country due to the inability of the previous government to provide fertilizers to producers on time,” an official statement said. .
Mr Ismail said the Sindh government would be asked to purchase additional wheat once it reaches the current supply target.
The previous ECC meeting on March 17 set the wheat supply target of 6.9 million tonnes at a total cost of Rs 376 billion. The biggest target of 4 million tons was given to Punjab with Rs229 billion CCL, followed by 1.4 million tons to Sindh with Rs77 billion CCL and 1.2 million tons to Passco with Rs72.5 billion and the Balochistan to procure 0.1 million tonnes at Rs6.2 billion CCL. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been assigned a target of 0.2 million tonnes from its own fiscal resources.
In another summary, the MNFSR had demanded approval for the duty-free and tax-free import of 3 million tonnes of wheat, including 2 million tonnes on a government-to-government (G2G) basis from Russia. and 1 million tonnes through an international tender. He had also suggested that in case of difficulties in arranging wheat from Russia on a G2G basis due to sanctions or otherwise, the entire 3mt quantity should be arranged through international tenders. with the following procurement rules, as already granted by the firm’s exemption.
Considering the current global scenario, its effects on the global economy and the wheat supply and demand situation in the country, the ECC has authorized the import of 3 million tons based on the needs. , depending on the request from Passco and provincial governments to build up strategic reserves and stabilize wheat prices in the country. The ECC has asked the authorities concerned to define the financing and procurement modalities.
The ECC also approved the revision of atta and sugar prices from Rs950 per 20kg to Rs800 and Rs85 per kg to Rs70, respectively. He also endorsed the continuation of the rebate of Rs 190 per kg on vegetable ghee.
The meeting was informed that the cushion of the unspent grant already approved by USC was still available and was to be disbursed by the Ministry of Finance with the maintenance of the subsidized prices of these three items which were fixed for Ramazan and necessitated a new approval for two months, that is to say until June 30.
Posted in Dawn, May 10, 2022