Fearing flour crisis, Sindh govt decides against releasing wheat

Updated 16 Jul 2020

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"It’s a consensus decision of the provincial cabinet in view of the situation in the country."
"It’s a consensus decision of the provincial cabinet in view of the situation in the country."

KARACHI: Amid growing prices of flour in Sindh and other parts of the country, the Pakistan Peoples Party government in the province has decided not to release wheat and rejected a federal government proposal fearing shortage of the key staple in Karachi and other districts.

“The Sindh government has decided not to release wheat immediately” Chief Minister’s Adviser Murtaza Wahab told a press conference at the Sindh Assembly’s auditorium hall on Wednesday. “It’s a consensus decision of the provincial cabinet in view of the situation in the country. There’s a deliberate attempt to create a wheat crisis in the country after the sugar crisis. It’s all happening because governance is in the hands of incompetent people imposed on the country.”

Accompanied by Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu and Food Minister Hari Ram, he called it a policy of the PTI government to create a shortage of anything to benefit their allies.

“We are concerned that Sindh’s wheat will be stored in other provinces as there is a big difference in the wheat prices in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. We can’t afford another crisis when we are already facing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

Murtaza Wahab says CPEC was the vision of PPP and former president Zardari

He announced that the Sindh government would take all possible steps to overcome the food crisis and the decision to release wheat would be taken by the provincial cabinet.

‘PTI responsible for power crisis’

He said that the PTI was actually responsible for the power crisis in Karachi and it staged a “fake show of protest” only to cover its “connivance” with K-Electric.

He said Planning Minister Asad Umar and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail had announced that there would be no loadshedding in Karachi, but loadshedding had not ended. “It is still going on today.”

He said that KE had two representatives of the federal government in its board of directors. The federal government owned a 23 per cent stake in KE.

Barrister Wahab said that the main difference between the PPP government in Sindh and the PTI at centre was that they believed in mere lip service while the provincial government was making every possible effort to provide relief to the people.

He said that the government had not been able to control the prices of petroleum products and had never been able to make them available at the previous rate.

He further said that the PTI “knelt before the petroleum mafia”.

Selective accountability

“We have pointed out the role of the prime minister in the sugar scandal. The Sugar Commission had included all the facts of the sugar crisis in the report. The prime minister was not questioned anywhere. The Sindh chief minister is grilled but not the prime minister.

“The greatest chief minister of the world was working in Punjab. Sardar Usman Buzdar is now Waseem Akram Plus. The target of wheat production in Punjab has not been met. Imran Khan Plus has been ruling Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for seven years,” he sarcastically said.

“The KP government has failed to meet half of the wheat production target. Sindh is the only province where the wheat target is met. Sindh met the target of more than 3.8 million metric tons. Punjab has achieved the target of 90 per cent wheat storage, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 5 per cent and Pasco 65pc while the Sindh government has achieved the target of 98pc wheat storage. The wheat crisis is being created in the country due to their incompetence. Wheat prices are high in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In this situation, mafias can be organised. This government only believes in rhetoric.”

He said that now the federal government was putting pressure on the provincial governments to release wheat, adding that wheat from Sindh would be smuggled into Punjab and KP due to high wheat rates. “All this is happening because of their wrong policies. We are concerned that the wheat of Sindh will be stored in other provinces. This is the strategy of these incompetent and corrupt rulers. They want to squeeze the blood of the people.”

‘CPEC is result of Zardari’s vision’

To a question, he said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a game changer for the country. “Whose gift is this? Everyone knows that this is the result of Asif Ali Zardari’s vision. Former president Zardari included Gwadar in the CPEC.

“In the past, Gwadar was given to another country. CPEC is the vision of the PPP and Asif Zardari,” he added.

To another question, he said that more coronavirus cases in Sindh were the result of improved testing.

“There are 160,773 cases in Sindh. There are 88,000 cases in Punjab. The coronavirus recovery rate is also high in Sindh,” he added.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2020