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ISLAMABAD: Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has directed Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Ministry of Commerce and Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to jointly work out modalities for import of three MMT of wheat, official sources told Business Recorder.

Ministry of National Food Security & Research stated that National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) in its meeting held on 26th January 2022 directed MNFS&R to consult PASSCO in order to work out a plan for the import of 0.50 MMT of wheat for building strategic reserves and to avoid any untoward situation before the arrival of fresh produce.

Federal Committee on Agriculture (FCA) in its meeting held on October 7, 2021 fixed wheat production target of 28.89 MMT from an area of 122.758 million acres. Due to less sowing area, drought conditions, shortfall of 28 percent of water shortage, low fertilizer off-take and higher cost of production, provinces could achieve production of 26,173 MMT, showing over nine percent production shortfall against the assigned target of 28.89 MMT. Public sector including PASSCO and Provincial Food departments reported their carry-forward stocks at the level of 1.85 MMT at the start of new Food Year as on May 01, 2022.

The forum was apprised about the national wheat requirement for the Food Year 2022-23, which was estimated at 30.79 MMT, including a quantity of two MMT of strategic reserves. The situation regarding over nine percent production shortfall needed immediate appropriate actions.

Ministry of National Food Security & Research recommended the blanket approval of three MMT of wheat may be granted on need basis, depending upon the demand of the PASSCO and provincial governments to build up strategic reserves and to stabilize wheat prices in the country.

Following proposals were submitted to the ECC for consideration and approval:

(i) import of 2.00 MMT of wheat on G2G basis;

(ii) import of 1.00 MMT through international tendering process;

(iii) in case of any sanctions on Russia, TCP may be allowed to import the entire quantity of 3.00 MMT of wheat through international tendering;

(iv) import of wheat should be made on the standard specifications notified in the Gazette of Pakistan in 2008;

(v) exemptions of PPRA Rules as was allowed by the Cabinet during the previous public wheat procurement; and

(vi) exemption of Federal Duties/Taxes to the extent of 3.0O MMT of imported wheat.

On May 9, 2022, the ECC discussed the matter threadbare. The forum examined various options for importing requisite quantity of wheat into the country, in order to avoid any likely shortfall of the commodity and also for stabilizing its price. Ministry of Commerce/Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) noted that in case the import of wheat on G2G basis was not possible, the TCP may be allowed to import the entire quantity of three MMT of wheat through international tender.

The secretary, Ministry of Commerce also suggested for constituting a National Task Force on Food Security as an oversight body, to ensure the availability of essential food commodities as per requirements in the country, procurement, price stabilization etc. The chair ECC agreed with the proposal.

The ECC’s decision has already been ratified by the Federal Cabinet on May 12, 2022. The concerned ministries will work out wheat import modalities once minutes of Cabinet are received, said an official on condition of anonymity.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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