Imports bringing down wheat, sugar prices, claims govt

Updated 07 Nov 2020

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ISLAMABAD: Federal ministers Shibli Faraz, Syed Fakhar Imam and Hammad Azhar addressing a press conference on Friday. — APP
ISLAMABAD: Federal ministers Shibli Faraz, Syed Fakhar Imam and Hammad Azhar addressing a press conference on Friday. — APP

ISLAMABAD: With the arrival of imported wheat and sugar, prices of these commodities in the market have started to decline, the government announced on Friday.

The government is enhancing releasing of wheat to flour mills to ensure adequate supply of flour to consumers, however, at the same time, the milling of wheat by flour mills will be monitored by the government, Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam said.

Addressing a joint news conference with Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, Fakhr said a total of 1.8 million tonnes of wheat will be imported into the country by January next year. The private sector has so far imported 220,000 tonnes of wheat.

On the occasion, Hammad said that with the arrival of imported sugar, prices of the commodity will fall by Rs15-20 per kilogram in the market.

Referring to wheat shortage, Fakhr said 9.5m tonnes of wheat will arrive at Karachi port by next month, while 1.5m tonnes in the month of February. “The imported wheat stock would supplement domestic strategic reserves and would be sufficient for domestic requirement till the harvesting of next crop in the country,” he added.

About wheat production, he said that during the last season, the country produced 25.25m tonnes of wheat which was not adequate to meet the domestic requirements, hence the government was forced to import wheat after twelve years.

Fakhr blamed the Sindh government for failing to realise the gravity of the emerging crisis and delaying the decision for the release of wheat. In contrast, the Punjab government started to release wheat in July to strengthen the market and price situations, he said.

Hammad told newsmen that over 100,000 tonnes of imported sugar has arrived in the country, out of which 40,000 tonnes have been released to the Punjab government to make available the commodity at the controlled rate.

Sugar mills have assured the government that crushing season will start earlier than the schedule which will help reduce sugar price in the market, he added.

Hammad admitted that there was no mechanism of physical inspection of the commodity. However, he emphasised that proper inspection was needed to produce authentic data to tackle with domestic requirements.

About the industrial package announced by the government, he said the industrial sector has widely hailed the scheme that would help promote the industry, create job opportunities and usher in economic development of the country.

Despite global slowdown, large scale manufacturing sector in the country including cement, fertiliser, tractor and construction was performing well, he said.

Minister for Information Shibli Faraz, who was present during the news conference, said that the government has no intention to privatise the Pakistan Television Corporation.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2020