Centre, Sindh at loggerheads on procurement of wheat

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ISLAMABAD: The federal and Sindh government is at loggerhead on procurement as well as releasing of wheat in the local market.

Documents state that Sindh government did not procure wheat in the current year and also not release against the available 0.804 million tons stock into the local market, despite repeated request made by the ministry of National Food Security and research.

Documents state that governments of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have approached Ministry of National Food Security and Research for provision of 0.4 and 0.2 million tons wheat and their requests were submitted to the ECC of the ECC of Cabinet in first week of October subsequently ECC allowed 0.250 million tons (0.10 million tons for Sindh and 0.150 million tons for KP) on equal contribution to the flour-mills of two provinces.

Sources told that federal government given the orders to release 0.10 million tons of wheat to Sindh in order to control the mounting prices in the local market as central government has information that PPP government is not releasing the wheat to local market as they do not have surplus wheat despite the 0.804 million tons stock.

Sources claimed that Center has suspicion that Sindh government has not the required wheat stock and their statistics are not correct so that’s why federal government has summoned the report regarding the stock of wheat in the warehouses.

Sources told that this food year started with the leftover stock of wheat at the tune of 3.778 million tons. Provincial Crop Reporting Centers had reported intially the production of wheat crop 2018-19 at the level of 25.471 million tons as compared to the production of 25.51 million tons of the corresponding period of last year. Therefore, the total avaialbilty of wheat during current year was estimated to be 29.249 million tons, which is sufficient to cater the requirement of 26.91 million tons for population of 212.7 million of the country.

On the other hand, the total tune of the procurement made by the public sector was 4.034 (3.316 million tons by Punjab and 0.681 million tons by the PASSCO) against the assigned target of 6.250 million tons, showing a decline of more than 35 percent . Sindh province did not procure wheat, which is the main reason for this decline in public procurement while government of Punjab fixed the release price and started to release their stocks to flour mills of the province.

It is pertinent to mention here that PASSCO and Provincial Food Departments have reported wheat stocks at the level of 6.854 million tons as on 04-10-2019, as compared to 10,153 million tons of the corresponding period of the last year.

Sources told that provincial governments also reported a production loss of 1.213 million tons because of heavy rain and hail storm during the maturity stage of wheat. Due to production loss, low wheat procuremnent by the public sector, higher international wheat prices were the reasons for escalated wheat prices in the local market.

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