The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has given approval for the import of 0.3 million tonnes of wheat without regulatory duty, which will help overcome the flour crisis in the country.
The decision was taken at the ECC meeting which was chaired by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Hafeez Sheikh chaired. According to the details, the ECC has approved the import of wheat to be allowed till March 31. The first shipment is due to arrive by February 15. According to Reuters, it is not yet clear from which country or countries Pakistan will import the wheat.
Prices of flour and bread surged up last week as the ingredient disappeared from shops and wholesale markets.
The ECC has also directed the Punjab government and Pakistan Agricultural Storage and Services Corporation (PASCO) to release their extra stocks to overcome the shortage. The government of Punjab and PASSCO had 4.1 million tons of wheat stocks available.
It is worth mentioning that Pakistan had exported more than 600,000 metric tonnes of wheat from late 2018 to June 2019, according to the data released by the PBS. Although the government banned exports in July last year, 48,000 metric tonnes was still sent overseas until October 2019.
During the meeting, the ECC also approved the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess waiver of Rs. 400 per bag on urea to ensure the supply of cheap fertilizer to farmers.