Karachi: Mr. Atif Ikram Sheikh, President FPCCI, has said that wheat support price should continue for the farmers as they need a support mechanism for the guaranteed sale of their crops. However, this financial burden should not be transferred to the people in the form of expensive wheat flour – which happens to be the most important staple food for the people of Pakistan.

Mr. Saquib Fayyaz Magoon, SVP FPCCI, explained that private-sector imports wheat when there is a gap between wheat demand and supply; which otherwise can lead to wheat shortages; food security issues for the country and exploitation of the masses through price spirals. It is pertinent to note that private sector was allowed to import wheat from September 2023 to overcome the wheat shortages; curb hoarding and stabilize flour prices.

Mr. Saquib Fayyaz Magoon informed that as per government’s own estimates there was a wheat shortage of 2.5 million tons this year; while independent sources placed that shortage at 3 million tons. Therefore, both the ministry of national food security and the economic coordination committee (ECC) of the cabinet allowed the private sector to import wheat but without involving any subsidy. ECC also asked the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for opening of LC for the wheat import.

Mr. Magoon maintained that blaming wheat importers from private sector or the caretaker government for bridging the supply deficit when it was actually needed is unfair; instead of appreciating their timely imports. Whereas, wheat importers have imported wheat consignments in accordance with government policies and regulations. So, doubting their intentions is not only unfair but also detrimental for the food security paradigm of the country.

Mr. Saquib Fayyaz Magoon stressed that the wheat imports in pipeline are also under complete compliance of government policies and all applicable taxes & duties being paid. Furthermore, if we harass the importers of essential and critically important commodities such as wheat, the importers will be discouraged to play their pivotal role in the time of any such crises in future. We got to be careful, he added.

Mr. Magoon added that due to timely imports people have not faced any wheat or flour shortage in the last 5 – 6 months; and, have paid lower prices for the flour due to sufficient imports. Because, imported wheat costs approximately PKR. 65 per kg as compared to locally produced wheat, which costs approximately PKR. 100 per kg. This means that consumers saved PKR. 125 billion rupees and inflation started to post a declining trend, he added.