Govt to procure record wheat worth Rs280bn: Asad Umar

'If I was a member of the monetary committee, I would have suggested a bigger cut in interest rate'

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ISLAMABAD: The government would procure a record quantity of wheat worth Rs280 billion this year, said Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar on Wednesday.

“The government is going ahead with record wheat procurement this year. This will inject Rs280 billion in the market to help ease liquidity problems,” the minister said while talking to a news channel.

Hailing the economic package announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Asad Umar said the package would help those daily wagers who were not able to earn their livelihood during the lockdown period.

He said the package would also help exporters whose liquidity had badly hurt due to the global economic slowdown. “The government is trying its best to restore their liquidity by providing them a generous package worth of Rs100 billion.”

For the construction industry, the minister said the government would announce a separate package in a week or two.

He said the construction industry would engage over 30 industries; business activity in all these sectors would accelerate while job opportunities would be created.

Replying to a question regarding the State Bank of Pakistan’s announcement of revising down interest rate by 1.5 per cent or 150 basis points, the minister welcomed the decision and said this would give benefit, especially to the business community.

He said earlier in its routine meeting, the Monetary Policy Committee had reduced interest rate by 75 basis points and now it reduced by 1,500 points, taking the total to 225 points.

Umar said after the virus outbreak, Egypt was the only country that reduced its interest rate by 300bps, while Pakistan was the second country that reduced the rate by such a large margin.

However, he said he personally believed that there was more room to reduce the interest rate.

“If I was a member of the monetary committee, I would have suggested a bigger cut in interest rate. But the good thing is that the SBP didn’t wait for two months and by seeing the situation, it called an emergency meeting to revise down the interest rate,” the minister added.

With regard to the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), he informed that the Ministry of Finance had also waived the limit on PSDP to be imposed in the last quarter of fiscal year (2019-20) to control development expenditures.

But now after waiver of this limit, it was likely that the full amount allocated under PSDP would be spent on the projects, he added.

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