ISLAMABAD: Ministry of National Food Security and Research has written a letter to the finance ministry requesting the release of Rs30 billion, which it calls as an outstanding amount to the Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (Passco).
The amount has piled up over the years due to the provision of subsidised wheat to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
“The federal ministry had taken the responsibility of paying this amount through a grant,” a senior officer of the ministry told The Express Tribune.
“However, it is the third letter written to the finance ministry for the release of this amount yet no action has been taken.” As directed by the federal government, Passco has been providing 1.5 million bags of subsidised wheat to G-B at Rs1,300 per 100 kilograms against the actual price of Rs3,200 across the rest of the country. The difference has not been paid by the government from 2005 to 2010.
The Economic Coordination Committee had increased the wheat price by curtailing the subsidy during Pakistan Peoples Party tenure in 2011, but authorities did not implement the decision till the completion of the government’s tenure in 2013.
Later, following assuming charge of the federal government, the decision was implemented.
This triggered a strong agitation in the area and local politicians staged a mammoth sit-in in Gilgit and Skardu cities for over two weeks, paralysing the entire system.
The sit-in was called off only once the federal government negotiated with the protesters, promising to pay the outstanding amount to Passco gradually. However, Passco officials said that the corporation has not received anything as yet.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2015.