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Wheat import despite surplus stock sparks controversy at Finance Ministry

Wheat import despite surplus stock sparks controversy at Finance Ministry

ISLAMABAD: The controversy of importing substandard wheat from Ukraine despite surplus wheat reserves in the country has frustrated the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), while the ministry declined having such information about the import of wheat.

A well-placed source at the MoC said that the ministry had a viewpoint that the government did not import any wheat during the last one year from any country, including Ukraine.

However, as Pakistan follows an open-market trade policy, agricultural commodities including wheat are freely importable in the country. Therefore, the private sector imported 68,655 metric tonnes of wheat from Russian, Ukraine and Moldova by February 2015 due to the low prices of wheat in the international market.

As wheat was imported by the private sector, no coordination was required between, provincial governments and the Ministry of National Food Security & Research.

According to available information, surplus wheat stocks of 4.20 million tonnes are available with the public sector. This includes 1.150 million tonnes with PASSCO, 2 million tonnes with Punjab, 0.8 million tonnes with Sindh, 0.145 million tonnes with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 0.113 million tonnes with Baluchistan Food Department.

The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) considered the summary dated February 4 this year submitted by the Ministry of National Food Security & Research on ‘Offload/Export Public Sector’s Surplus Wheat Stocks’ and approved export of wheat and wheat flour.

The provincial quotas for wheat export have been awarded by the ECC, under which Punjab was allowed to export 800,000mt wheat and Sindh was allowed to export 400,000mt wheat.