ISLAMABAD-Private sector is responding positively to the government’s wheat import policy, as 270,000 metric tonnes of wheat has been booked on 4 vessels by private sector for August and September.

Federal Secretary for National Food Security and Research, Omar Hamud Khan consulted with all chief secretaries on Saturday to review availability and prices of wheat. Federal Ministry is taking the measures to ensure the availability of wheat and flour at affordable rates. There will be policy of zero tolerance against hoarders and to not make any concessions in this regard. All provinces are working with federal government to ensure complete prevention of wheat smuggling. Sindh will finalise the wheat release policy in the province at the earliest.

Punjab has operationalized its wheat release policy. District Administrations will be empowered in each province to evaluate functionality of flour mills. The ECC has already allowed import of wheat. Ministry of national food security and research said it assures importers to trade in wheat for countering wheat shortage in the country. Few taxes and duties have been abolished including regulatory duty 60 percent, custom duty 11 percent, sales tax 17 percent, and withholding tax six percent.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Wednesday has directed Ministry of National Food Security and Research to accelerate efforts for wheat imports. In order to ensure the availability of wheat and atta in the country throughout the year and on affordable price ECC directed Ministry of National Food Security and Research to accelerate efforts for wheat imports. ECC directed that the Ministry of NFSR should hold meeting with the major importers of wheat at the earliest and come up with proposals that may indicate that what will be the expected price of the imported wheat and if there is any need for the government to allow subsidy on the product to keep the prices stable in the domestic markets.

Provincial governments and PASSCO have already achieved 79% of their procurement targets. More than 120 importers have so far shown interest to import wheat in the country. ECC directed Ministry of NFSR to extend requested facilitation to the importers including waivers of different taxes and duties. It was also assigned by the ECC that provincial governments, Trade Corporation of Pakistan and PASSCO may arrange wheat imports as soon as possible to avoid shortages any time during the year.