Country most likely to face wheat shortage, PM told

Pakistan offers huge opportunities for investments in technology: PM


ISLAMABAD  –  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday directed the Punjab government to enhance its target for wheat procurement and instructed the Food Security Division to timely import the commodity, if need arises, to meet any shortfall.

He gave these instructions, while chairing a high-level meeting in Islamabad on Friday, regarding wheat production, existing reserves, and its consumption at the provincial and the national level. The prime minister also issued directions for curbing smuggling of wheat, evolving a comprehensive strategy to check theft of the commodity and corruption. He also directed to present a strategy for the construction of silos to store wheat.

He said the construction of silos will help eliminate corruption and theft of wheat. He said a fertilizer crisis was created at the time of wheat cultivation due to criminal negligence, bad governance and irresponsibility, which caused losses to farmers and the country. Shehbaz Sharif said Pakistan is an agrarian country and wrong decisions and lack of timely strategy have made it a net importer of wheat.

The prime minister said delayed announcement of the wheat support price led to reduction in cultivation of the crop in an attempt to directly benefit hoarders. He expressed the resolve to make Pakistan self-sufficient in wheat production through better strategy.

The meeting was given detailed briefing about this year’s production of wheat in the country. It was told that the target set for current year was 28.89 metric tons of wheat, but the production is likely to remain 26.173 metric tons. The overall consumption of wheat is estimated at 30.79 metric tons in the country. It was told that reduction in wheat cultivation area, shortage of water, and fertilizer crisis, occurred due to maladministration of the last government, are the main reasons behind the gap between the target and expected production of the wheat. Besides, a tendency of 2 percent reduction in cultivation of wheat was witnessed among farmers due to delayed announcement of the support price. Additionally, increase in oil prices and climate changes like early rise in temperature also obstructed the achievement of the set target for wheat production. Regarding wheat procurement target at the government level, the meeting was apprised that Punjab has achieved 91.66 percent, Sindh 49.68 percent, and Balochistan 15.29 percent,  while PASSCO has hundred percent of its objective.

The Prime Minister was also briefed about public relief measures by the sitting government, which include provision of subsidized wheat to flour mills, availability of 10 kilogrammes of wheat flour bag at 400 rupees, supply of flour through Utility Stores in Balochistan and two metric tons of wheat to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Prime Minister directed to identify wheat consumption of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in consultation with the provincial government to ensure supply of the required amount of the commodity.

‘Investment opportunities in technology’

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Friday Pakistan offers huge opportunities for investments in technology sector and foreign tech companies would be facilitated in all respects with regards to investment and expansion.

He was talking to Senior Vice President of Huawei and President of Middle East and Africa Region of Huawei Mr. Yi Xiang, who called on him in Islamabad on Friday.

The Prime Minister said the government intends to increase the IT exports of Pakistan from 1.5 billion dollars to 15 billion dollars in the coming year and for that close collaboration with Huawei will result in the provision of training to the youth of Pakistan through various means including setting up a university.

He emphasized that investments in the tech sector would increase employment and skills enhancement of Pakistani youth, especially women as the government is focused to increase the number of women in the e-commerce sector by providing them the suitable environment to get themselves trained and raise capital. He also emphasized the need to expedite the process of strategizing the collaborative efforts within a week and highlighted government’s willingness to not leave any stone unturned to achieve the said objectives.

The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction over Huawei’s long association with Pakistan and investments in the telecom sector.

‘Relief measures for people’

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday held a meeting with Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail and discussed measures for providing relief to the people. The prime minister expressed satisfaction about the present price of sugar and said the price of sugar came down after three years which was relief to the people.

He issued direction to provide cash credit to Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASSCO) for buying of wheat. The Secretary Finance was also present in the meeting.

Also, former Inspector General of Punjab Police Zulfiqar Cheema Friday called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and congratulated him on the assumption of office. During the meeting, they also discussed the law and order situation in the country as well as police reforms. Meanwhile, Member National Assembly Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh and PML-N leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq separately called on Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Islamabad on Friday. Overall political situation of the country was discussed during the meetings.

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