ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has for­­med a cabinet committee to ascertain the reasons for the import of the commodity during the last caretaker government.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the PM presided over a high-level meeting on wheat on Thursday and expressed gratitude to Allah Almighty for bestowing the country with a bumper wheat crop this year.

“No leniency should be committed in procuring wheat, and farmers should be given the fruit of their hard work immediately,” the prime minister ordered.

The official press release said the prime minister asked the relevant officials about the import of wheat last year and why the decision was taken to import the commodity despite foreseeing a bumper crop.

In this connection, the prime minister formed an inquiry committee headed by Secretary Cabinet Division Kamran Ali Afzal. Other members of the cabinet committee include federal ministers Ahad Khan Cheema, Rana Tanveer, Muhammad Aurangzeb, Jam Kamal, and PM’s coordinator Rana Ahsan Afzal, along with some government officials.

The PM has also directed the authorities concerned for the second time to complete the procurement of wheat from farmers. A few days ago, the PM had ordered an increase in the wheat procurement target from 1.4 million tonnes to 1.8m tonnes and directed the authorities to immediately complete the procurement.

Media reports said godowns of Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation Limited were already full of wheat imported during the last caretaker setup; therefore, the government was reluctant to procure more wheat from growers. On the other hand, farmers have taken to the streets to protest against the non-purchase of their wheat by the government, forcing them to sell their crop in the open market at a lower price than the official rate fixed by the government.

When contacted by Dawn, Information Minister Att­a­ullah Tarar said no such inquiry was constituted by the PM before, and all such reports were untrue.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2024

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