KP cabinet okays Rs3bn wheat import subsidy to control flour price

Published August 25, 2020
KP CM Mahmood asks food dept to keep all options for wheat procurement open. — Dawn/File
KP CM Mahmood asks food dept to keep all options for wheat procurement open. — Dawn/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet on Monday approved Rs3 billion subsidy on the import of wheat to keep flour price in check across the province.The cabinet held a special meeting with Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in the chair to discuss wheat import through the federal government.

The meeting was attended by provincial ministers, advisers and special assistants to the chief minister, chief secretary and administrative secretaries.

A statement issued here said the cabinet decided that in the first phase, the provincial government would immediately import 0.15 metric tons of wheat through the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) at the cost of Rs8.5 billion to ensure smooth supply of wheat to flour mills and stable flour price.

The same quantity of wheat will be procured in the next phase.

The statement said the chief minister directed the food department to keep all options, including wheat procurement from domestic market, open.

CM Mahmood asks food dept to keep all options for wheat procurement open

The cabinet also decided to form a committee consisting of food, finance and education ministers and food secretary to hold talks with the private sector for the procurement of wheat.

A senior food department official told Dawn that KP and Punjab had contacted the centre for the procurement of wheat through the TCP.

He said the TCP would procure wheat and once it reached the port, the provinces would ensure its early transportation to their stores.

The official said some private vessels carrying wheat would berth at the port soon, while the TCP wheat was likely to arrive by the end of the current month.

He said the Rs3 billion subsidy was being given to meet the differential of open market and government-controlled rates.

The official said currently, the open market price of 20kg flour bag hovered around Rs1,200, while the government-controlled flour was sold on the open market for Rs860 per bag.

He said subsidy would be used to bridge the differential and pay for transportation and other charges, which bloated the price on the open market.

The official said wheat being procured through the TCP would be in addition to the 500,000 tons being provided by the Pakistan Agricultural Services and Storage Corporation (Passco).

He said Passco had made an agreement with the KP government for supplying 500,000 tons of wheat and of it, 100,000 tons of wheat had already been delivered.

The official said the provincial government and Passco recently signed a memorandum of understanding for the supply of another 100,000 tons of wheat and therefore, the province had already received 40 per cent of the commodity.

“We will receive the remaining 60 per cent at the end of the current month,” he said.

The official said the corporation had to supply the remaining 300,000 tons of wheat to the province.

He said currently, there was no flour shortage in the province and the government-controlled flour was being sold for Rs860 per bag at around 1,700 outlets over the province.

NANBAIS ARRESTED: In a related development, the ongoing bickering over roti price between nanbis and district administration led to the arrest of around 10 members of the Peshawar Nanbai Association under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order.

The police told Dawn that nanbais association president Haji Iqbal and his associates were taken into custody and were detained at the East Cantonment police station under 3-MPO by Peshawar AC Ihteshamul Haq.

However, the AC denied making or ordering arrests.

An official of the East Cantonment police station said 10 people were detained under the relevant sections.

Danish Iqbal, son of nanbai association president Haji Iqbal, told Dawn that the district administration called his father and his associates to its offices for talks and detained him when he reached there.

He said before arrests, the association members protested the handing over of 1,000 flour bags from daily quota to some unidentified people at the director food’s office.

The nanbais had announced on Saturday night a shutter down strike to force the district administration to increase roti price.

Mr Iqbal alleged that flour bags were given away to disrupt strike after which the call for strike was withdrawn.

He claimed that on Monday when nanbais went to the food department to protest the handing over of flour bags meant for them to other people, they were taken into custody.

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2020

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