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Wheat ‘crisis’: TCP chairman likely to face the music

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has reportedly held Chairman TCP responsible for...
Updated 14 Sep, 2021

Islamabad: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has reportedly held Chairman TCP responsible for wheat “crisis” in the country and directed Commerce Ministry to seek an explanation from him for not complying with the ECC’s clear directions, well informed sources in Ministry of National Food Security and Research told Business Recorder.

The issue of Chairman TCP’s laxity in import of wheat will also land in the Federal Cabinet, and probably, Commerce Ministry will submit progress report in this regard.

The sources said, Ministry of National Food Security and Research gave a briefing on the case and recommended the following options for consideration and approval of the ECC: (i) ECC may accept the lowest bid price offered by M/s. Cargill, Pakistan @ US$ 369.50/- MT for the quantity of 12O000 MT, during the shipment window of October and November, 2021. Or TCP may be directed to scrap the tender and issue a fresh tender to get a reasonable price ;(ii) TCP may be directed to ensure maximum quantity through the process of matching, already allowed under PPRA rules and ;(iii) TCP may also be directed to explore and expedite the option of wheat import through G2G arrangement.

During the ensuing discussion, Minister for Interior, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed stated that this was a very sensitive issue relating to food security due to increasing shortage of wheat flour in the local markets. Moreover, due to fast changing political circumstances, demand for wheat flour was increasing in Afghanistan for the last one month which would also affect the prices of wheat in the country. Therefore, it was in the best interest of the country that procurement of wheat may be immediately done.

Wheat: from mishandling to the next crisis

The Minister for National Food Security supported these comments and stressed that Ministry of National Food Security & Research repeatedly requested Ministry of Commerce/ TCP to make arrangements for maintaining strategic reserves of wheat in order to avoid price fluctuation and shortages etc. However, it regretted to note that such arrangements were not made in time.

The ECC approved procurement of 120,000 tons of wheat at $ 369.50/ MT offered by M/s. Cargill, Pakistan.

The ECC also directed Commerce Division/TCP to proceed in this regard without waiting for formal ratification of the said the ECC decision by Federal Cabinet because of time limit involved.

The ECC further directed Commerce Division to seek explanation from Chairman, TCP for inordinate delay in importing wheat and not expediting option of wheat import through G2G arrangement despite clear instructions of the ECC. The Chairman TCP was also required to personally explain the position to ECC in this context.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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