Prices of wheat have skyrocketed across the country and increased fears of potential shortages in the markets.
Many say the government is to blame who claims to be curbing the crisis, all the while dealing with allegations of being unfit to find a solution to the issue.
Media reported that the flour crisis began on Monday in Sindh before spreading to other provinces. A news source pointed out that the government was considering importing wheat to avoid the raging crisis.
The past fiscal year saw wheat production projected at 25.195 million tonnes. However, the actual production was said to be around 24.7 million tonnes, according to sources. Wheat production in 2017-18 had previously stood at 25,076 million tons and in 2016-17 at 26,674 million tons.
A media source reported that wheat consumption hoards about 2 million tons on a monthly average, stating that the production of 24.7 million tonnes would normally have been more than sufficient to meet annual domestic needs.
Punjab also possessed wheat carryover stocks.
The province had also procured some 3.5 million tons of wheat last year against a goal of 4 million tons. Nevertheless, as the wheat crisis emerged in Sindh, it also spread to other provinces, and KP and Sindh began to look to Punjab to meet their needs for wheat in fear of shortages.
Read More: Fears rise as flour prices soar in KPK
The problem was aggravated by the government’s decision to export 200,000 to 400,000 tonnes of wheat, keeping in perspective the surplus stocks on the basis of estimates put forward by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research. The actual exports of wheat surprisingly however crossed 640,000 tonnes.
During a meeting in which the government had already placed a ban on the export of wheat and flour, the Prime Minister was told that the exports of wheat-esque commodities was still in progress in Afghanistan. Similarly, flour exports were also advancing.
Additionally, the premier also instructed during the meetings that the cabinet should approve the import of wheat to 0.2 million tonnes previous October, but the decision could not be acted upon immediately, said the news source.
Punjab, meanwhile, also imposed a ban on inter-provincial wheat movement. In view of this whole situation, profiteers and hoarders began to exploit the situation and reportedly plunged into the piling up of wheat in hidden stocks to increase prices.
Now the blame is on the government for the prevailing wheat crisis and record inflation in the country.
In a talk show on Samaa Tv, former finance minister and economist Hafeez Pasha said that the most important question one should be asking amidst this crisis is: who increased the price of flour, despite purchases of wheat from farmers at the old rates?
“The government should have made efforts to avert a possible wheat crisis,” the economist had said.
“But the government instead reduced the purchase of wheat.”Samaa TV
He added that the government had allowed the export of wheat the past year. Pasha also said that 0.65 million tons of wheat had been sold to multiple countries since that time.
In regards to the rise in flour prices, he said that wheat is now being imported at a rate 10% higher than at which it was exported. However, for the common people, the commodity is being sold at a 42% higher rate.
Pasha also added that nearly 8 billion people were gripped in poverty over the past year, while 40% of the population stood on the brink of it. If the policy is not changed in time, 40% population is likely to fall into poverty by next year, he said.
He went on comment on the incumbent government’s policies saying that it imposed Rs700 billion worth of new taxes,
Commenting on the incumbent government’s policies, Pasha said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government took major steps to fulfill the International Monetary Fund’s conditions.
It levied new taxes worth Rs700 billion, lowered the value of rupee, increased electricity, coal, petrol and food products rates, he elaborated.
These only added to the crippling situation of the people, he said.
In addition, Pasha said, decreasing the development budget has affected the economic growth of the country.
As the blame game between lack of coordination among the tiers of government continues, the poor, as always, are caught in the crossfire.