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ISLAMABAD: The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) has exempted import of 0.4 Million Metric Tons (MMT) of wheat from rules in the national interest as per the decision of Federal Cabinet, official sources told Business Recorder.

The recommendations of PPRA Board regarding exemption under section 21 of PPRA Ordinance, 2002 for import of 0.4 MMT wheat to build strategic reserves in the country were forwarded to Cabinet Division for onward placement before the Federal Government for approval.

Subsequently, the Federal Cabinet on July 6, 2021 considered the recommendations of PPRA Board and granted partial exemption to the applicability of Rule 5, 13, 35, 38 and 40 of the Public Procurement Rules, 2004. The decision of the Federal Cabinet has duly been communicated to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research.

The government has claimed that wheat production in 2021 was 27.5 MMT but decided to import 0.4 MMT wheat to avoid any crisis in future and raise strategic reserves.

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Last month, Ministry of National Food Security and Research, placed the following proposals before the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet: (i) total quantity of wheat import may be considered to be enhanced to 4.00 MMT from 3.00 MMT during 2021-22; (ii) approval for import of 2.00 MMT by Ministry of Commerce through TCP through international tender may be considered; (iii) 1.00 MMT through G2G arrangements may be considered; (iv) Ministry of Commerce may be directed to import wheat when prices are low in market; (v) Ministry of Commerce may be directed to stagger import in order to avoid congestion at ports; (vi) private sector may be allowed to import up to 1.00 MMT; (vii) import be allowed on the import specifications of wheat, notified in the Gazette of Pakistan on November 14, 2008; (viii) removal of all duties and taxes as was allowed during the last year's import; (ix) Department of Plant Protection may regulate the quantity and quality of wheat to be imported by issuing import permits and sanitary/phytosanitary certificates; (x) exemption is solicited to Rule-5, 13, 35, 38 and 40 of the PPRA Rules, 2004 for all public import to be made through TCP and/or under G2G arrangements; and (xi) Finance Division may be advised to make financial arrangements for the import of wheat.

During a discussion in ECC, Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi emphasized that the Ministry of National Food Security and Research should always present credible data before submission of such proposal so that informed decision-making can be made. Adviser to PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity, Dr Ishrat Hussain, stated that the wheat crop production was quite satisfactory therefore, there should be no need to import. Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin observed that current production of around 27.5 MMT is not sufficient for local consumption. At least 3 MMT would be required to meet the shortfall, price stabilization and strategic reserves.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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