ISLAMABAD-To facilitate the wheat importers, the federal government has decided to approach Sindh to waive off the Excise and Taxation (E&T) charges of 1.25 percent on import value of wheat while State Bank of Pakistan would arrange inter-bank dollar exchange cover for wheat importers.

Few taxes and duties have already been abolished by the federal government including, Regulatory Duty 60 percent, Custom Duty 11 percent, Sales Tax 17 percent and Withholding Tax 06 percent. Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) is assuring importers to trade in wheat for countering wheat shortage in the country.

For this purpose, few key decisions were taken by Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet in its meeting on 15-07-2020. As per ECC, imported wheat will be exempted from the Anti-Hoarding Act imposed by the provincial governments on producing verified import record by the importers. Sindh government is to be approached to waive off the Excise and Taxation Charges @ 1.25% on import value of wheat. State Bank of Pakistan would arrange inter-bank dollar exchange cover to wheat importers, as is provided to other industries. Price mechanism for imported wheat will be considered, in consultation with the importers in a meeting with the Advisor to the PM on Finance & Revenue.

It is pertinent to mention that in compliance of the decision of the ECC of the Cabinet on 19-02-2020 and 10-06-2020, Department of Plant protection (DPP) has so far issued import permit to private sector in two phases. Ministry of National food Security and Research (NFS&R) has constituted a monitoring committee to look after issues pertaining to the import of wheat. The committee is headed by Additional Secretary, NFS&R as chairman with addition to representative of Wheat Importers Association.

Meanwhile, while chairing the meeting of National Locusts Control Centre (NLCC), Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam said that locust breeding has been started in Tharparkar and Cholistan. The briefing was started with FAO locust forecast. As per the forecast, summer breeding has commenced along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border where numerous swarms are present mainly in Rajasthan, India. Hatching and band formation will increase during this month in Rajasthan and northern Gujarat, India as well as adjacent areas of Tharparkar, Nara and Cholistan deserts in Pakistan. New reports of Desert Locust swarms further east in northern Somalia suggest that migration from northeast Somalia across the Indian Ocean to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border could be imminent. More swarms are likely to form in northern Somalia in the coming weeks. India and Pakistan have been warned accordingly.

Pakistan Meteorological Department mentioned that there are seasonal low lies over western Balochistan. Moist currents are penetrating upper and central parts of the country from Bay of Bengal. More monsoon currents are likely to penetrate in upper and central parts of the country from Sunday. Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) mentioned that Saudia Arabia and Kenya are interested in exchange of information on locusts bilaterally. NLCC has also developed rate integration map, which is shared with all provinces daily. It was also discussed during meeting that there is a dire need to generate large scale provincial maps to include tehsil level migration forecast.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa mentioned that since 2nd of July there is no locusts activity in the province. In last 24 hours 171911 acres have been surveyed. Balochistan mentioned that the province has worked really hard in eliminating locust. In last 24 hours 22 districts were found with locust, resultantly on 222 acres operation was done. Punjab mentioned that in last 24 hours survey was done on 260516 acres and no locust was found. Teams are working in Cholistan. Apart from this, teams are also working in Pak Pattan and Lodhran. Sindh mentioned that in last 24 hours survey was done on 94807 acres. Teams are working in Tharparkar and Nara desert.

DPP also shared guidelines for survey and control operation with the provinces. The survey method includes foot transect, vehicle transect and aerial transect. GPS corner areas must be treated. Survey data and observations can be entered into a custom handheld data logger called eLocust3 or they can be written down on Standard Survey/Control form.