CM says govt to continue wheat procurement

Says leftover stock capped the storage capacity at govt warehouses

Our Correspondent May 09, 2024
Average import price of 1.9m tons of wheat came in at Rs2,533 per 40 kg, according to the food ministry. photo: reuters


Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced on Wednesday that the provincial food department has procured 600,000 tons out of a target of 900,000 tons of wheat procurement. The remaining grain will be lifted from the missed-out areas.

The CM blamed the caretaker government and wheat import for the prevailing crisis, compelling farmers to sell their produce at throwaway rates. According to him, by the end of February this year around 400,000 tons of wheat were in the provincial government's stock because the interim setup could not clear the stocks between August, 2023, and February.

The import of wheat from Ukraine further aggravated the quandary. He contended that the Sindh government couldn't procure beyond its present target of 900,000 tons because of storage caps. According to him, Sindh is producing between 4.2 million to 4.5 million tons of wheat during the ongoing harvest while the government has so far bought around 450,000 tons of wheat.

Acknowledging corruption in the government procurement Shah said that four District Food Controllers (DFCs) have been suspended so far while separate inquiries are also underway. He assured the complaining PPP workers that the government would not only take action against the officials and private persons involved in the wheat scam but the looted funds would also be recovered. Earlier at a press conference in Sukkur on Tuesday, the CM said the wheat import benefitted the Ukrainian farmers by depriving Pakistani wheat growers. He referred to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif's inquiry committee over the import scam but stopped short of expressing any hope from that committee.

Budget proposals

CM Murad Ali Shah asked the Pakistan Peoples Party workers to submit their development proposals on the government provided proformas in three days if they want their schemes covered in the upcoming provincial budget.

Shah and his provincial cabinet on Wednesday interacted with the workers of Shaheed Benazirabad and Mirpurkhas divisions to get their input for the upcoming provincial budget in two separate events in Nawabshah and Mirpurkhas.

Shah said the representatives of every single union council and union committee should fill and submit these proformas to their respective district presidents of the party.

He advised them to avoid suggesting smaller schemes like constructing a drain in their street because the same can be covered through funds of the Sindh Local Government Department.

"I promise you that after five years when the workers will go to seek votes from the public, they will have their performance to show."

He told the workers that water supply projects are the top priority of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Therefore, he added, the workers should submit propositions in large numbers for the water supply projects. Nevertheless, the CM cautioned the workers to keep in mind that it is beyond the realms of possibility to add all the proposals to the budget 2024-25.

Benazirabad division

The LG representatives of the rural folks who suffer from drought-like and flood situations every other year drew the attention of the provincial government to the dysfunctional natural drains. They requested the authorities to rehabilitate those saline drains, called dhoras in the local language, by means of desilting, removing encroachment, and reinforcing the banks.

Responding to this suggestion Shah said the work on such drains is already underway, adding that he is also asking Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro to visit the drains which are being pointed out by the workers. The workers of Nawabshah city demanded the construction of a ring road with intersections connecting towns and villages along the way.

The construction of a trauma center and an advanced cardiac facility was demanded for Moro taluka of Naushehro Feroze district. The workers from Qazi Ahmed complained that several areas still do not have a supply of natural gas. The issues of poor road and sewage networks,

Mirpurkhas division

The issue of squandering of the public funds over reverse osmosis plants in the Tharparkar district which remains inoperational most of the time surfaced during the interaction in Mirpurkhas. The workers complained that scores of RO plants are still not working although the government has repeatedly intervened to resolve the problem.

The workers also proposed construction of more small dams in Tharparkar where 70 such dams already exist. According to them, the existing water storage ponds are providing drinking and irrigation water in the desert region. Responding to this suggestion the CM directed the irrigation minister to survey the area for building new small dams.

The female workers told Shah that only one girls' degree college existed in Tharparkar due to which the female students from other talukas have to travel back and forth to Mithi taluka daily. Hearing this complaint the CM requested the education minister Syed Sardar Shah to prepare a scheme for the construction of a girls' hostel for the college.

The workers from the division also requested for desilting of fresh water and saline channels including Nara canal and LBOD; construction and repair of roads to connect major towns; and to address the crippling problem of power outages. They bemoaned that Tharparkar is providing coal energy to the country but the district's people continue to suffer from extensive outages.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2024.


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