After the 18th Amendment, all four provinces get substantial revenues from a divisible pool and various taxes levied by respective provinces. The divisible pool is disbursed to federating units as per agreed formula. The major bulk of any province’s revenues comes from the tax collected from citizens residing within their jurisdiction.

Provinces subsidize basic essential food items like wheat, sugar etc for distribution to their own residents. In accordance with this practice, the Punjab Provincial Government has subsidized wheat for sale within the province. Reports appearing in media suggest that the Punjab Provincial Cabinet has under pressure from the federal government decided to offer KPK wheat subsidized by taxpayers of this province, which would have an impact of approximately Rs 9 Billion on Punjab.

It is gross mismanagement by the federal government which has created a wheat and sugar crisis in Pakistan, further aggravated by smuggling to Afghanistan and hoarding and blackmarketing. This points to flaws in governance and corruption within the administration coupled with either their complicity or incompetence.

Pakistan’s economy has always been agro-based, and the country has been self-sufficient in wheat and other agriculture produce. The government must address the basic problem for either the decline in agriculture produce or those responsible for hoarding and black-marketing. The Quaid on 11th August 1947 referred to this as “greater crime than the biggest and most grievous crimes,- because they undermine the entire system of control and regulation of food-stuffs and essential commodities, and cause wholesale starvation and want and even death.”

The government must act decisively and effectively to avoid the wrath of angry starved masses. Merely importing wheat, after allowing its export, is unacceptable and not the solution expected from an elected government.

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore.