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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has sought complete data of wheat procurement/ import storage and release of last five years along with audited accounts and viability of wheat silos, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

Sharing details, sources said, on March 8, 2023, Ministry of National Food Security & Research informed the ECC that Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) procures wheat from Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan and provides it to deficit provinces/ area and agencies. It is also responsible for maintaining strategic reserves of the country. Procurement takes place on the announced Minimum Support Price (MSP) as per targets assigned by the Federal Cabinet.

The ECC was apprised that wheat stocks of 1,552,010 MT were available with Passco as on March 02, 2023. With the remaining import of 572,703 MT, out of approved import of 2,052,538 MT, the total availability with PASSCO would be 2,164,113 MT. The projected release from Pasco’s stock was estimated at 638,848 MT, leaving behind carry forward stock of 1,325,265 MT at the start of new food year on April 01, 2003.

Passco had noted that its pending liabilities on account of provincial governments, strategic organizations and Food Departments of AJ&K and GB were Rs. 110.092 billion. In order to procure local wheat and to meet the assigned target of 1.80 MMT, tentative Cash Credit Limit (CCL) of Rs. 201.00 billion @ procurement price of Rs. 3,900/40 would be required. This amount constitutes Rs. 175.5 billion for purchase of local wheat, whereas remaining Rs. 25.5 billion would be utilized on account of incidental charges and purchase of Bardana, etc.

Rs201bn cash credit limit: ECC approves procurement of 1.8 MMTs of wheat by Passco

Ministry of National Food security & Research further revealed that last year PASSCO was assigned procurement target of 1.20 MMT; however, on the direction of the PMO, the target was enhanced to 1.70 MMT. For ensuring procurement of strategic reserves and stock for recipients of Passco, Government of Punjab had been requested to assign additional 16 Tehsils for procurement. Wheat crop harvesting has already started in southern Sindh. Provincial Crop Reporting Services (CRS) have reported wheat crop sowing as on March 02, 2023 at 21.94 million acres or 96% of the target area. The shortfall was due to crop substitution in Punjab and less sowing in Sindh due to standing water of rains and floods.

Ministry of National Food security & Research stated that in view of the current situation, additional demand of wheat from Pasco’s stocks from Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, minimum level of carry-forward stocks and prevailing pricing trend in the local wheat market, it recommended that PASSCO may be assigned wheat procurement target of 1.80 MMT with the tentative Cash Credit Limit for Rs. 201 billion @ procurement price of Rs 3,900/ 40 kg.

The ECC discussed the case threadbare. SAPM on Government Effectiveness observed that fixing of wheat procurement price did not fall under the domain of ECC, as it was a devolved subject to the provinces after the 18th Amendment in the constitution. He suggested that Ministry should submit viable recommendations on establishment of wheat silos in the country. The forum agreed to the proposal. Minister for Power observed that the country was surplus in wheat production five years back. However, a large quantity of wheat had been imported to meet shortage of wheat in the country during last five years and in this regard a report on import of wheat for the last five years should be presented to the ECC for consideration.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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KU Mar 11, 2023 02:25pm
Everyone doing their job and going through the routine work that they are supposed to do, but it's mostly a work of fiction. Anecdotal evidence on wheat season 2022-23 suggests that it has been sown on far less area than is foolishly claimed by relevant departments, thanks to high cost of production. The level of competency of our government and public sector can be judged by the fact that the official wheat price was announced only a few weeks ago, which is usually announced at the begining of sowing season, mainly to motivate the farmers. People tasked with the food security of the country should be taken to task in the near future when it will dawn on the nation that they don't have enough to eat. Meanwhile, fertilzer comapnies and the pesticides companies posted over 2 billions rupees profit.
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