ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research has expressed its serious concern over the rising prices of wheat flour and urged the Ministry of National Food Security to take appropriate measures to check the rising inflation that has hit the common man.
The committee meeting chaired by Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah also showed concern regarding determining uniform minimum prices for wheat and asked the ministry to take appropriate steps for legislation so as to facilitate the decision for a uniform minimum support price for wheat.
As the wheat sowing season will start on Oct 10, the government should announce a uniform minimum support price, and it is high time to take appropriate steps in this regard, the committee emphasised.
In case of a difference of opinion related to determining the minimum support price, the committee recommended that a forum to discuss the matter and enter an amicable resolution of all disputes is created.
Senate body calls for taming inflation as surging flour rate hits masses
Members of the committee expressed serious apprehension that one of the major reasons for the shortage of wheat in the market is smuggling to Afghanistan. The Ministry of Interior should brief the committee on this issue, members said.
While discussing the cotton cess fee, the committee was of the view that this has been the main reason for losses and that further research in this area was required. This, it said, was an important issue and all-out efforts must be made to determine the cess fee.
Regarding loans to facilitate farmers the committee recommended that all interest on loans given by Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL) may be waived. An increase in loan facilities was recommended for private commercial banks. The committee stressed the need to follow up on the matter with the State Bank of Pakistan.
In addition, cotton crop losses in the wake of floods, minimum wheat support price and steps taken to constitute a wheat board were also taken up by the committee.
The committee also took up matters relating to the Pakistan Tobacco Board (Amendment) Bill 2022, which was passed with a majority decision by the committee.
Senator Sania Nishtar of PTI opposed the amendment and contended that the powers to constitute the board and routine matters must be vested in the federal government. This amendment, she added, watered down the federal government’s authority.
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2022