Tariq Cheema blames mafias for wheat hoarding

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Food Security & Research Tariq Bashir Cheema on Monday said the government procured only 20 percent of total wheat produced in the country and blamed various mafias for hoarding and provinces for not checking the exorbitant prices of wheat in their respective jurisdictions.

Responding to a motion, on the floor of the Senate, moved to discuss the nonavailability of wheat and its exorbitant rates, he said that the unnecessary crisis of flour in the country was mainly because of less than required release of wheat by the provinces to the flour mills.

He said the private sector purchases 80 percent of wheat and sells it at exorbitant rates.

He said the federal government was trying its utmost to meet the needs of provinces, but provinces were not fulfilling their responsibilities as they were duty-bound to provide wheat to the people. Province also has a price check mechanism in their respective jurisdiction.

He said there was a shortage of 17,000 bags in the federal capital, however, the federal government was trying to overcome the shortage by increasing supplies.
He said federal government has to provide wheat to the armed forces, Pakistan Air force (PAF), Pakistan Navy, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and others.

He blamed the long negligence of successive governments to agriculture sector as the reason for shortfall.

He said Kissan package was not being implemented in its true letter and spirit by the successive government.

Earlier, speaking on the motion, Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmed asked for the transportation of wheat to be allowed. Tahir Bizenjo of the National Party (NP) urged the government to take measures to overcome the shortage of wheat and rein in various mafias plundering the people. Molvi Faiz Muhammad of Jamiat Ulema-e-Inslam Fazl (JUI-F) urged concrete measures to overcome the wheat shortage. (APP)