On the 2nd of June this year, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail ordered that the process of importing edible oil from Malaysia and Indonesia be facilitated to ensure smooth supply of the commodity to the consumers and stabilise its price – which had been hiked by more than Rs 200 a day before.
He also announced that appropriate measures be taken to enhance the local production, so that the impact of edible oil imports on foreign exchange reserves could be minimised. The news was buried in the papers and went without much attention. Probably because Miftah Ismail is neither the first finance minister to give such direction nor is his government the first to think that edible oil could be produced locally from scratch saving precious dollars on the import bill.
What most might not realise is that Pakistan is dependent on Malaysia and Indonesia for its most basic caloric input. Not only are we the fourth largest importer of palm oil, we also import soybeans and other oilseeds necessary to produce edible oil and the locally essential ‘Vanaspati Ghee.’