Senators express concern over wheat shortage, price hike
ISLAMABAD - Senate Chairman Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani Monday directed the federal and provincial governments to present daily reports in the Senate about the steps being taken to resolve the wheat crisis in the country.
The chairman gave the ruling after senators from both the treasury and opposition benches expressed serious concerns in the House about the wheat shortage and increase in the prices of essential commodities and medicines.
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq said the wheat shortage was not an issue of one party, rather it had put immense pressure on every citizen of the country. The people were feeling the pressure of inflation.
He said first wheat was exported and now it was being imported, adding the matter should be referred to the Committee of Food Security.
Senator Javed Abbasi said Pakistan was self-sufficient in wheat but it was a matter of grave concern that the people were facing problems due to the shortage of the commodity.
He said the Sindh and Balochistan governments were claiming that they had written to the Federal Government that they were running out of wheat stocks.
Senator Javed said in the past a health minister had resigned over raise in medicine prices, which, however, was not reversed. Gas was not available in many parts of the country, while its price had been hiked, he added.
He urged the government to devise policies for generating employments, reducing prices and attracting investment.
Senator Sirajul Haq said Pakistan was a leading producer of wheat, sugarcane, and fruits and vegetables but people were suffering from their shortages. The price of roti (bread) had increased and those of the medicines also, he added.
Senator Mohsin Aziz said it was a fact that there was a shortage of flour and the government had categorically stated that the crisis would end in the next few days.
He said one reason for the flour crisis was the wrong data provided by the provincial governments and disruption of wheat supply due to the strike of transporters.
The flour crisis had hit the country many times in the past as well, he said, adding there was a need to undertake more research in the agriculture sector.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said Pakistan was the food basket and according to experts if available resources were utilized properly then it could even meet the food needs of a continent like Africa. The government should take severe action against those responsible for the present flour crisis, he demanded.
Senator Abdul Qayyum said when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government came into power, it faced the challenges of terrorism, energy crisis and economic revival, which it had overcome. Now the militancy was again raising its head, with the crisis in the energy sector and growing inflation, he added.
He asked the government to plan ahead about the future food requirements of the country by keeping in view the population, area under cultivation and yield. Those elements should also be held accountable, who were involved in profiteering and hoarding, he added.
Senator Pervaiz Rashid said the monthly wheat requirement of the country was 200,000 metric tons.
Last year the country produced 24 million tonnes, he said adding export and smuggling of what was done.
The wheat was exported at the rate of Rs 29 per kilogram, while now it was being sold for Rs 70 per kg in the country, he claimed.
He said the Federal Government was complaining that it was given wrong information by the provinces. The prices of sugar had also gone up, he added.
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