During the interim government’s tenure, a surplus quantity of wheat was imported under a systematic design which caused a loss of over Rs300 billion to the national exchequer, Geo News reported quoting sources.

The sources said the Ministry of National Food Security told Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif about this during a briefing at the PM Office in Islamabad. They said crucial development had taken place in the wheat scandal’s probe launched on the orders of PM Shehbaz.

The ministry, as per the sources, apprised that during the caretaker government’s tenure the private sector was given a complete exemption on import, on the ministry’s recommendation, instead of a cap, whereas wheat traders were also exempted from the customs duty and GST.

In the briefing, it was apprised that 28.18 million tonnes of wheat was produced last year and the caretaker government decided to import 2.45 million tonnes more.

The sources said Pakistan Agricultural Storage & Services Corporation Limited (PASSCO), the government’s main grain procurement and storage agency, and provincial departments could only buy 5.87 million tonnes of wheat instead of the required target of 7.80 million tonnes from the growers.

The briefing said that after the approval of the interim cabinet, the Ministry of National Food Security sent a summary, ignoring the recommendations of the Ministry of Commerce and Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP).

It should be noted that the wheat crop is ready in the country and the price per 40kg has also been set by the provincial governments. However, the Punjab and Balochistan governments are yet to start the purchase from the farmers.

Due to the non-purchase of wheat by the provincial governments, wheat is being sold at a lower price than the official rate, which is worrying the farmers.

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