Govt considering increasing wheat support price: FM
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday said the government, being cognizant of the enhanced cost of production and prices in the international market as well as to encourage growers, was considering increasing the minimum support price of wheat for the next crop.
The matter will be taken up during upcoming meetings of the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) and the Federal Cabinet next week, he said while addressing a press conference with Minister for National Food Security Fakhar Imam and Industries Ministry and Production Hammad Azhar.
He said the government would not let the hoarders and profiteers benefit from the situation through various administrative measures. He said the government of Sindh has also finally decided to release 10,000 tonnes of wheat per day from its stocks which would help stabilize the supply and prices of wheat and wheat flour in Karachi and interior Sindh.
About sugar, he said the government took measures including allowing zero-rate import of the commodity to check its prices.
To a question, Qureshi said, the opposition after failing to get relief or NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) through amendments in NAB (National Accountability Bureau) had changed their views and were now criticizing the government on different issues. He reminded the opposition parties that the current situation in different sectors including that of agriculture or others was not worsened during the last two years but was a backlog of the two previous regimes.
Reaffirming government’s commitment
National Food Security and Research Minister Syed Fakhar Imam reaffirmed the government’s commitment to take all possible measures to ensure the provision of essential food commodities on affordable rates to a common man.
The minister said that international price parity of wheat as compared to local market spiked the prices and created a room for a third force to hoard the commodity for extra profiteering. He said that mechanism in collaboration with provincial governments would be evolved to check undue price hike and discouraging the nexuses of cartels and hoarders. He said that sufficient wheat reserves were available in the country and it would further strengthen by the arrival of other scheduled consignments, which would discourage the speculative demand and hoarding of the commodity.
Physical inspection to verify stocks
Hammad Azhar said that in 2011, it was told that about 0.3 million tons of sugar laying as exportable surplus. In July, this year about three times more sugar were lifted from Punjab which resulted in a deficit, he said adding that there were different causes of this including the availability of wrong data shown by the mills. He said that the government had decided to start physical inspection of sugar to verifying the stocks. He said that so far about 55,000 tonnes of sugar had been imported and further 100,000 tonnes to arrive in a few days that would bring down the prices of the by Rs10 to 15per kg.
He said sugar mills were asked to ensure sugarcane crushing well in time and late starting mills would be fined Rs5 million per day. He said it has been proposed to impose a fine of five million rupees on sugar mill, which fails to start crushing season well in time. He said provinces are requested to initiate legislation for this purpose making it obligatory to start the crushing of sugarcane from 10th of the next month.