Masses, Ministers, and External Trade

Written by The Frontier Post

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Tuesday approved the World Food Programme (WFP) request for the purchase of 120,000 metric tons of wheat for Afghanistan in 2022-23 on humanitarian grounds. According to the statement of Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation (PASSCO), the purchase would be made from the imported wheat stock of PASSCO at the latest import price. The Ministry of National Food Security & Research had tabled the summary for WFP wheat purchase and told the meeting that the amount of supplied wheat along with cost and incidentals would be charged in US dollars. The wheat would be locally grinned into flour and would be supplied to Afghanistan by WFP, subject to relaxation of the ban on the export of flour to the extent of the proposed deal only.

Pakistan, a congenitally agricultural state has been made a grain deficient nation due to myopic decisions and unmeasured policies of its leaders in the past. There had been countless scandals of corruption, nepotism, and self-service of Pakistani leaders which resulted in the shortage of wheat, flour, sugar, ghee, fertilizers, and other commodities of daily use besides huge losses to the national exchequer on the account of trade and transportation of those items from abroad. Recently, another such decision had been made by the ECC, which might have consequences for the government. The Committee approved the export of wheat in the ploy of the WFP’s request on humanitarian grounds, that the country itself imported from abroad. In fact, Pakistan had provided sufficient Economic and food assistance to our Afghan brethren and will continue its endeavor in the future also, but the trade-in of deficient commodities with the UN body makes no sense. The World Food Programme has no scarcity of sources and resources for the procurement of food grains from the region or beyond. Apparently, it is an unethical decision, because the government ignored the local requirement and opted to earn dollars which will surely create problems for the country.
Interestingly, during the same meeting the Ministry of National Food Security also submitted a summary of urgent advice relating to the award of the second international wheat tender 2022 opened on 1st July, for 500,000 MT, while the ECC approved the bid-offer of M/s Cargill Int @ US $ 439.40/MT for 110,000 MT. While the nation has been told by the Ministry that it was the lowest bid and there is a lower trend of wheat in the international market.

The entire world has been crying about the ongoing upheaval brought by the war in Ukraine and several countries in the world are facing famine-like situations due to disruption in the supply of food grains from Russia and Ukraine, while the wheat crop yielded 2.5% less in Pakistan than the past year. Recently, the Trading Corporation of Pakistan authorized the import of half a million tonnes of wheat to plug the supply-demand gap in the country, while the Ministry responsible for food security is trying to create food havoc in the country through grain trading. In fact, bureaucracy first creates issues through false presentations and fake statistics and later escapes the responsibility while putting blame on the leaders, hence the snags of their current expedition would be visible over time.

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