ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday called for taking strict action against those involved in the hoarding and profiteering of wheat and cautioned that no complaint regarding the shortage of commodity surfaces from any part of the country.
Chairing a meeting on the prevalent wheat crisis, the premier directed the authorities to ensure adequate supply of wheat in the country.
PM Imran maintained that wheat and flour were essential commodities that required government’s special attention and regulations on their supply and prices.
He called for combating the issues of hoarding and profiteering of wheat with an iron fist.
The premier insisted for a devising a beforehand plan to meet the demand of wheat in the coming months.
Ministry of Food Security secretary briefed the meeting about the overall situation of wheat in the country including the commodity’s production, consumption, import and export as well as the underlying causes which led to the recent crisis.
The premier was told that the Economic Coordination Committee had given approval for tax free import of wheat for meeting domestic requirement of the commodity.
It was further told that the crops reporting system in the country was being upgraded for the availability of data over the yield.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Food Security Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Minister for Energy Omar Ayub, PM's Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and other senior officials.
Last week, PM Imran ordered a high-level inquiry and formed a committee to identify the reasons for wheat/flour shortage and fix responsibility for it.
The premier took notice of the crisis at a time when all the stakeholders were passing the responsibility to each other.
An official statement issued by the PM Secretariat said that the committee was tasked to identify and fix responsibility on any individual/officer/organisation, including any purported benefit to a private party, besides suggesting a way forward for future course of action.
The committee comprised Federal Investigation Agency Director General Wajid Zia as its convener and a representative of Intelligence Bureau not below BS-20/21 and director general of Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), Punjab, as its members.
The inquiry report is to be completed by February 6 and then submitted to the Prime Minister Office.
The government has already allowed duty free import of 300,000 tonnes of wheat to ease an upward trend in wheat and flour prices in the country.
According to government statistics, 4.2 million tonnes of wheat stocks were still available in the system. The quantity is enough for two months of domestic consumption — 2.1m tonnes per month — while the fresh crop will also start coming to the market by the middle of March.
Officials said that wheat stocks at this stage last year were around 7m tonnes, compared to 4.2m tonnes this year.
At the time export of wheat was allowed last year, according to a food security official, the country had 10m tonnes of surplus wheat.
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