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ISLAMABAD: A special meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has decided to import wheat in small tenders of 150,000 to 200,000 metric tons instead of large quantities, and asked the Food Ministry and the provinces to decide after consultation whether the subsidy would be needed or not.

The ECC meeting presided over by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, on Thursday, discussed in detail the issue of wheat import as the matter remained inconclusive in the Wednesday's meeting as some serious questions were raised on the basis of making decision for import of wheat.

Secretary Ministry of National Food, Security and Research Omer Hameed, who was present in Wednesday's meeting, sources said, skipped the ECC meeting at the last moment, and the ministry was represented by an Additional Secretary of the Food Ministry, who informed the ECC that information and data provided by the provincial food departments was the basis of their assessment to make decision with regards to wheat import.

Sources further stated that some members stressed the need that Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), Ministry of Food and the provinces should hold weekly meetings to assess the stock situation in the country as well as requirement, and from where the commodity was available at reasonable prices to avoid shortage of the commodity as shortage of essential commodities, and subsequent increase in their price was creating embarrassment for the government.

They maintained that the ECC allowed the TCP to import required quantities of wheat through small tenders, and the Food Ministry and the provinces were directed to decide after consultation, and inform the next meeting of the ECC, whether the subsidy would be required or not.

Sources said that after 330,000 metric tons of wheat import, the ECC allowed the Ministry of Food and the TCP to import another 150,000 metric tons of wheat to maintain strategic reserves.

A statement issued after the meeting said that the ECC discussed in detail the need to import wheat in the country through the government and the private sector.

The chair directed that the availability of wheat was an important issue, and there was a need to maintain sufficient stock of wheat in the country, which could be made available at a reasonable price.

It was decided that the TCP would start importing wheat in the required quantities through small tenders from time to time, to maintain the wheat supply at a reasonable price and for keeping additional strategic reserves.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020