National Minister for National Food Security and Research Tariq Bashir Cheema has declared openly that there is no deficit of grain in the nation and the strategic budgets are acceptable.
“There is no dearth of wheat in any province. Provinces have sufficient stocks, but they are not releasing them,” the minister affirmed while talking at a press meeting on Wednesday.
He told that he would raise a question to the prime minister to authorize the requirement of grain to flour mills in Islamabad through Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (Passco).
“The daily requirement of 40 flour mills in the capital is 38,000 bags, each weighing 20 kg. Punjab government is not providing enough wheat to these flour mills, which has resulted in a shortage of 17,000 bags per day,” he declared.
Heretofore millers are purchasing wheat from available market to get along with depletion, the expense of flour is proceeding up.
The minister suggested out that Punjab had ceased to function to fulfill its grain procurement mark and then moved toward the national government to bridge the shortfall. He asked the Punjab government to provide the mills in Islamabad with the required quantity.
“We have imported wheat to provide to provinces. We will meet the demand of provinces if they approach us,” he stressed.
According to the minister, there are 38 points in Islamabad where the government is providing wheat flour at a low price to consumers.
Turning to the delay in announcement of wheat support price by the centre, Cheema blamed the Sindh government for setting a “very high” support price at Rs4,000 per 40 kg.
“The issue will be settled soon in a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.”
As after the 18th Amendment, prices of essential items were controlled by the provincial governments, he stressed that provinces should take measures to control prices and ensure food security.
He called on the provinces to take action against the flour mills grinding wheat at less than their capacity, which was leading to artificially high prices.
The minister emphasised that after the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award, the provincial governments had the financial resources, adding “if they can enhance their procurement targets, then they should”.