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LAHORE: The Punjab Food Department (PFD) is likely to borrow over 160 billion for procurement of 3.5 million tons of wheat target assigned by the federal government for the procurement season 2021 and all arrangements in this regard are final.

Sources in the department told this scribe on Monday that they had calculated this amount at Rs 1650 per maund as notified earlier and now the support price has been increased to Rs 1800 per maund, but notification in this regard is till awaited.

The sources said that growers are still resisting even Rs 1800 per maund and demanding to fix the support price at Rs 2,000 per maund, so the cost of procurement may go up.

However, they said they have made arrangements with all the banks to pick the loan and buy the grain to facilitate the growers as per government vision. He said procurement budget is higher this year as compared to last year because of increase in support price whereas procurement target has been reduced.

Regarding the crop situation, the sources said this year crop is better. However, they denied having any information about some private sector buying crop in advance from the growers as claimed certain growers’ leaders.

Additional Director PFD Punjab Muhammad Hussain Khokhar when asked said that all the homework by the department to launch procurement is final. He said that the department is ready to launch procurement from April 01, 2021; but there might be slight delay in case of unfavorable weather conditions.

Regarding financial arrangements, he said arranging finances for the government department is not a big issue as loan extended to the government is more secure than any other loan. He said that arrangements for gunny bags and list of procurement centres have been finalized. He said that open policy will be observed for giving gunny bags to growers intended to sell their wheat to the provincial food department.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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