NA body expresses concern over additional import of wheat

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Commerce has expressed serious concerns over the government’s decision to import 300,000MT wheat despite the arrival of fresh crop.

The committee, which met with MNA Syed Naveed Qamar in the chair, termed the government’s decision a ‘recipe for disaster’.

Briefing the committee on wheat import, the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) chairman said as per the target given by the government, the TCP has imported 2.16 million metric tonnes of wheat through international tendering and PASSCO, adding that 30 bulk vessels of TCP arrived from October 2020 to March 2021, while tenders for additional 300,000MT have been floated by the corporation.

After deliberating over import figures, the committee chairman noted that imported wheat was more expensive than the local market, consequences of which would start from next year when nobody would be ready to sow the crop.

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“With this permanent cycle of wheat import, the government is providing incentives to foreign farmers instead of local growers. This situation is entirely against our agriculture sector,” the chairman remarked.

The committee invited the food secretary to give a detailed briefing on the wheat situation in the next meeting.

Meanwhile, the NA panel also discussed issues related to the import of cotton. The commerce ministry informed the committee that due to less-than-expected production, domestic production of cotton yarns remained low, which resulted in a yarn shortage and high prices.

“Value-added sector is not able to cover yarn to materialize export orders,” it added.

The committee observed a continuous decline in cotton production since FY16. It constituted a sub-committee on the matter, tasking it to present a detailed report within 30 days.

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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