GFMM desk: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday (January 20, 2020) approved the import of 300,000 tons of wheat to eliminate the shortage of flour supplies.
Butter and bread prices have risen over the past week after ingredients disappeared from stores and wholesale markets. The government was under pressure to sell the bread makers at a controlled price. In protest, they stopped his work.
“It is not possible for me to sell bread for eight rupees a piece if I buy flour bags at high prices,” said Sheraz Khan, a shopkeeper in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, next to Islamabad, the capital.
“Gas prices have risen more than once since this new government came to power,” he added, estimating that the bill for his gas-fired oven has increased fourfold.
Pakistan’s Energy Pricing Regulator has made another proposal, which officials say will likely be approved.
Monday’s import decision was taken by the Economic Coordination Council, the first invoice expected to arrive by February 15, the finance ministry said in a statement, adding it would increase the regulatory tariff on grain, which could be shipped in until March 31.
It is not yet clear from which country Pakistan will import the wheat.
Pakistan’s export bureau says Pakistan exported more than 600,000 metric tons of wheat from the end of June 2018 to June 2019. Although the government banned exports in July last year, 48,000 metric tons were shipped overseas by October 2019.
Economic experts say that exporting wheat after the last crop’s low yields did not make any sense and called for an investigation into the export even after the ban.
“Someone made billions,” said opposition party leader Khawaja Asif said, adding that he suspected the wheat crises might be the result of a scam.
Khan’s government was already under intense pressure after a key faction of the coalition government left its cabinet due to rising wheat prices, and other allies also questioned the government’s performance.
Pakistan is a largely agricultural country, which usually grows sufficiently to meet the needs of the population.
Opposition parties and some economists have called for an investigation into why Pakistan needs to import wheat when it exports crops by the end of last year.