Virus, wheat crisis mars household budgets. Masses made to pay for wheat sector circular debt. Recommendations of flour mills should be considered.

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(December 21, 2020)

Chairman of National Business Group of FPCCI, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said the coronavirus and wheat crisis has ruined household budgets while pushing millions into abject poverty.

Wheat is the most important crop in the world and Pakistan is seventh largest wheat producer in the world but the mafia operating in this sector has created a serious food security issue, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the powerful mafia has contributed to poverty and it has emerged as a great challenge for the authorities.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that before the wheat crisis a man on the street used to spend up to 22 percent of his income on buying wheat flour but now it has doubled while virus has compromised their earnings.

The government has set wheat support price at Rs1650 to avoid further inflation but it has disappointed the masses and it will promote smuggling creating scarcity as the price of wheat in the regional countries is more than that, he added.

The business leader said that the system of wheat procurement, storage and distribution is flawed and muddy resulting in heavy losses to the government as well as resulting in a circular debt which is transferred on the poor therefore it should consider limiting its role in the wheat market.

The government should keep an eye on the demand and supply situation and retreat gradually for the market to save billions which can be used to develop the agriculture sector, he demanded.

He said that the recommendations of the flour mills associations should be considered to overcome the problem.

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