ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Wednesday announced that the country has sufficient stocks of wheat which were 31 tonnes more than last year’s reserves.

A meeting of the cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, also approved auctioning of one of the two expensive buildings of Pakistan Embassy in Washington.

“The cabinet was informed that as compared to the previous year, two per cent more stock of wheat was available in the country. Despite unprecedented floods in the country, the sufficient stocks are available due to efficient planning and steps were taken to ensure the availability of wheat and other edible crops in all parts of the country,” Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said at a post-cabinet meeting press conference.

Interestingly, the PML-N-led coalition government, soon after coming to power, accorded approval to the import of three million tonnes of wheat to “meet local demand”.

Cabinet okays auctioning of embassy-owned building in Washington

The minister said the cabinet was given a detailed briefing by the Ministry of Food Security and Research on the demand and supply situation of wheat in the country. She said the cabinet appreciated the efforts of Food Security Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema and his staff for ensuring the availability of wheat and other edibles despite heavy floods during summer.

She regretted that a propaganda was launched over the issue of broadcast rights of the Fifa world cup for PTV Sports. An inquiry into the matter had been completed and its details would be shared with the media soon, he added.

The minister said the present government had been in talks with the Fifa management for the past few months and hopefully PTV would telecast the matches live.

She said the prime minister had not accepted the resignation of Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazir Tarar and he was requested by cabinet colleagues to withdraw his resignation. She said the whole cabinet appreciated the competence and efficiency of Mr Tarar as law minister and also praised Sardar Ayaz Sadiq who looked after the Ministry of Law and Justice during the former’s absence.

The minister said the cabinet strongly condemned the suicide attack in Buleli area near Quetta and offered Fateha for those who were martyred and prayed for early recovery of the injured.

She said the cabinet lauded the services of polio workers in making Pakistan a polio-free country.

Embassy’s building

The minister said the cabinet gave approval to a proposal for auctioning one of the two buildings in Washington owned by Pakistan Embassy. She said that in 2010 the then-prime minister had approved renovation of these two buildings. She said the renovation of one of the buildings had been completed, but only 60 per cent work on the other building could be completed.

The minister said the US government had revoked the diplomatic status of the building and so far the government had paid $819,000 as tax. She said that after 2019, $1.3m tax had been paid on the building without any use. As the building was not suitable for use due to incomplete renovation and the abolition of its diplomatic status, she said, the cabinet approved the proposal for auctioning the building.

She claimed that in the past a bid of $4.5 million was given for the building, but it had now increased to $6.9m. If Pakistan did not auction the building, the US would itself do so, she added.

Ms Aurangzeb said the Islamabad High Court’s directives regarding the Bhara Kahu bypass issue have been implemented. She said a ministerial committee, headed by Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, listened to the proposals of all stakeholders and succeeded in building a consensus among them on the issue. The committee presented its proposals in the meeting which were approved by the cabinet and would be submitted to the IHC.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2022

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