(July 17, 2020)
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel Sr. Vice Chairman, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said the most devastating wheat crisis is engulfing the country.
Apart from the influential mafia, the concerned departments are also responsible for messing up the wheat market through wrong decisions which is unfortunate, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that at one hand government is trying to reduce the wheat and flour prices while on the other it is imposing taxes on the flour mills.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said the incompetent food bureaucracy is pushing the country into another crisis as federal and provincial governments have failed to achieve the wheat procurement target.
Flour mills were allowed to procure wheat only after the government went out of the cash which has not helped the food security situation.
The former minister noted that the government has decided to import fifteen million tonnes of wheat but so far not a single kilogram of wheat has been imported.
The private sector has acquired 122 permits to import 72500 tonnes of wheat but none has opened LCs while the authorities continue to work on snail pace without realizing the gravity of the situation.
The ECC fixed wheat procurement target of 8.25 million tonnes but all the provincial and federal departments have purchased only 6.45 million tonnes of wheat which amounts to helping the profiteers.
It is amazing that nothing has been earmarked for wheat import in the recent budget which may delay the decision to offer a subsidy to the importers.
Punjab has fixed price of 40 kg wheat at Rs1450 but it is being sold at Rs1950 while the wheat is available in Sindh at Rs1800.
He said that the government should stop depending on the private sector and initiate imports by itself to tackle the looming crisis.