ISLAMABAD: The federal government has reportedly requested Sindh government to review Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat of Rs4000/ 40 kg as it will cause a massive inflationary spiral in the province.
The issue of MSP of Sindh was raised by the Minister for National Food Security and Research, Tariq Bashir Cheema, who is tasked to announce MSP of wheat at the national level after consultations with the provincial governments.
On September 13, 2023, during the discussion, the Minister for National Food Security & Research drew the attention of the Cabinet to the announcement of Rs 4000 / per 40 kg as support price of wheat by the Government of Sindh.
He contended that setting such an exorbitant support price by the province would extraordinarily increase the Atta price and unleash an inflationary spiral. Considering the burden on the population, especially urban, he recommended that the Government of Sindh may be requested to review the decision.
Some of the Cabinet members, however, felt that there was a need to incentivize the farmers in switching to wheat crops. It was argued that instead of importing expensive wheat, it was more desirable to give better compensation to our own farmers, which would help ramp up domestic production and, resultantly, save precious foreign exchange.
The majority of the members were, however, of the view that a committee be constituted to informally take up the matter with the Government of Sindh.
After detailed discussion, the Cabinet constituted a Committee comprising of Finance Minister (Convener), minister for National Food Security and Research, minister for Commerce, minister for Maritime Affairs and adviser to PM on Kashmir Affairs and GB.
The federal government intends to announce MSP of Rs 2800-3000/ 40 kg but All Pakistan Farmers Ittehad wants MSP of Rs 4000/ 40 kg as was announced by the Sindh government.
The matter of import of urea fertilizer also came under discussion and it was pointed out that 300,000 MT was a very liberal figure whereas shortfall could be met though importing 200,000 MT. Ministry of Industries & Production noted that in face of the looming gas shortage, which would affect domestic production, a safe estimate had been made accordingly and decision of ECC may be ratified to allow import of urea fertilizer up to 300,000 MT.
On September 21, presiding over a meeting on zoom, prime minister directed that based on survey and feedback, National Food Security and Research Coordination Committee to advise on wheat seeds requirements to Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives (PD&SI) who shall hold meting with the Minister for Commerce and Minister for National Food Security and Research for wheat and urea procurement from Kazakhstan and China, in the wake of Prime Minister’s discussion with the heads of the states of the two countries on the sidelines of UNGA.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022