GILGIT: Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Supply Corporation (Pasco) has warned Gilgit-Baltistan government to pay outstanding dues or be ready for another suspension of wheat supply to the region.
Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government owes Rs10 billion to Pasco. “Pasco has asked the G-B government to pay its dues or face suspension of wheat supply to the region next year,” sources in Civil Supply Department told The Express Tribune on Thursday. They said that the issue of outstanding payments surfaced last year but it was temporarily resolved on the intervention of the political government.
They said that the G-B government had sought time to clear the dues but failed to do so due to financial cuts in the annual budget.
Provincial Minister for Food and Agriculture Mohammad Jafar blamed the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Q for nonpayment of outstanding dues to Pasco. “We have inherited this burden from the previous regime,” he said.
Official sources said that the provincial government had decided to approach the federal government for increase in the wheat quota for Gilgit-Baltistan given the fact that the region’s population has increased while supply has been the same for the past few years.
The sources said that wheat supply will be suspended if the outstanding amount is not paid by next month, adding that Pasco has sought the payment through the Ministry of G-B and Kashmir Affairs.
The federal government provides 1.5 million bags of wheat to Gilgit-Baltistan every year as its quota. “If the supply is really suspended, the G-B government will have a tough time ahead as the floods have ruined crops this summer,” said an official in the provincial government.
He said that the amount payable to Pasco is beyond the capacity of G-B and it should make serious demands with the federal government to waive it off.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2010.